The James Harden trade rumors have heated up as the date draws closer to the NBA trade deadline. But while the latest news signals that there won't be a trade for the Brooklyn Nets guard just yet, there are already rumblings about his next rumored destination in free agency – the Philadelphia 76ers.

According to NBA insider Chris Haynes in the latest episode of his Posted Up podcast, some league executives are already detecting some funny business going on between James Harden and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin, who is apparently “very, very, very good friends” with the Nets guard. The suspicions could be what has set off alarms on some Harden exit rumors of late.

Via Posted Up with Chris Haynes:

“Usually when there's smoke, there's fire. There's another player we're going to add to this dynamic. Michael Rubin, for those who don't know, the Sixers co-owner – very, very, very good friends with James Harden. I'm talking to a rival owner, talking to rival front office executives who believe that there could be some talk going on now between both sides.

Not much was made of the fact that James Harden did not sign a long-term extension with the Nets shortly after Kevin Durant did exactly that. The expectation was that it was a foregone conclusion that the trio of stars would stick together after making such a huge splash of banding together in the first place.

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But with such a tumultuous season filled with COVID-19 drama and the usual injury woes, James Harden has been in the middle of trying to keep the Nets afloat. It's been reported that the Beard is rumored to have several gripes at his situation in Brooklyn beyond the obvious – such as with Steve Nash's rotations and the living situation not being to his liking.

Meanwhile, a perfect situation on the Sixers featuring his former GM in Daryl Morey, supposed close friend in co-owner Rubin, and MVP candidate Joel Embiid all ready to welcome him with open arms if the opportunity presents itself.

However, the rest of the league won't just sit around idly for that to happen. If there are cryptic machinations at work that could be considered tampering, rival front offices are allegedly ready to get the NBA involved.

“And this is what I was told. Some front office executives are prepared to, when the time comes, if a deal does look like it's about the transpire where there could be some potential sign-and-trade in the offseason, they're prepared to get the league involved on a potential collusion case dating back to what they believe could be going on right now.”

There's a lot of uncertainty surrounding James Harden right now. The rumors themselves could all be an illusion and he stays with the Brooklyn Nets anyways. Kevin Durant could get healthy and the city mandates allow Kyrie Irving to play at home once the playoffs roll around. But until James Harden fully commits, the rumors aren't going to go away anytime soon.