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Report: 76ers thought they were approaching Chris Paul trade before season, but he wasn’t interested

76ers star Joel Embiid and Suns star Chris Paul

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 21: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers and Chris Paul #3 of the Phoenix Suns embrace after the game at the Wells Fargo Center on April 21, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Suns defeated the 76ers 116-113. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

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Then-Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, according to Chris Paul, told the guard he wouldn’t be traded to the Thunder in 2019. Of course, Morey ultimately traded Paul to the Thunder.

Paul reported to Oklahoma City and made the most of his situation. The Thunder were so pleased with Paul, they worked with him to facilitate a trade to his desired location last offseason.

Paul chose the Suns, and Oklahoma City dealt him to Phoenix.

Sam Amick of The Athletic:

Ironically, sources say Philadelphia — with Morey having taken over the Sixers’ front office just weeks before Paul was sent to the Suns, and his former Clippers coach, Doc Rivers, part of their program too — made a spirited push to land Paul. The Sixers even believed there was some traction on a possible deal. The interest from Paul, however, was not mutual.

The Suns have been awesome with Paul.

But the 76ers have been nearly as good – without Paul. It’s fascinating to consider just how good they would have been with him.

Phoenix paid a relatively modest price for Paul. Philadelphia made a different trade with Oklahoma City late in the offseason. Perhaps, the 76ers could have still sent Al Horford’s large contract to the Thunder as matching salary in a Paul trade – with additional picks/young players also going to Oklahoma City. Though Danny Green wouldn’t have landed in Philadelphia, the 76ers’ rotation with Paul might not have looked significantly different otherwise.

Joel Embiid still could have been the offensive and defensive engine. Paul and Ben Simmons could have shared point guard duties – Simmons pushing the pace, Paul commandeering the attack once Philadelphia was forced into its halfcourt offense. It’s unclear how Simmons would have fit in those halfcourt sets. But the upside of this more-talented team would have been tantalizing.

Morey has done an excellent job overall with the 76ers so far. But his baggage from Houston has maybe limited opportunities.