The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly willing to include Ben Simmons in a trade for James Harden, but talks have not progressed far down the road.
On Thursday evening, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne reported that the Houston Rockets were expanding trade discussions beyond the markets to which the disgruntled superstar has requested to be dealt: the Sixers and Brooklyn Nets.
“Several playoff-caliber teams in the Eastern and Western conferences tell ESPN that they’re finding increased comfort in committing high-level trade assets in talks to acquire Harden. The Rockets have ongoing discussions on several fronts and have been communicating with Harden about those scenarios,” Woj and Shelburne write. “Several teams tell ESPN that they’re feeling less inhibited about trading for Harden without an assurance that he’d re-sign once he can become a free agent in two years.
Wojnarowski and Shelburne note that despite the fact that the Sixers—now run by former Rockets lead executive Daryl Morey—are willing to include Simmons in trade talks, the two sides are “nowhere close to a deal.”
The Athletic’s Shams Charania echoed ESPN’s reporting:
The Philadelphia 76ers have made Ben Simmons available in some packages with the Houston Rockets for James Harden, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Conversations aren't fluid as of now.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2020
The Rockets are not particularly interested in the talent the Nets could offer in return (assuming they don’t include Kyrie Irving), and a third team may need to join the trade in order to entice Rockets GM Rafael Stone. Houston is asking for a package of young players and picks for the 2018 MVP.
Houston is planning on starting the 2020-21 season with Harden next to John Wall in the backcourt, but seem increasingly open to dealing the star shooting guard, who is owed $133 million over the next three years.
“While the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden, those talks have come nowhere close to a deal, sources said. The Nets are limited by the Rockets’ interest in their personnel, and likely would need a third team to emerge in talks, sources said. So far, the Rockets steep asking price of young players and pick hasn’t moved any of their discussions into an advanced stage.”