Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey told The Athletic's Shams Charania on Thursday night that the Sixers "are not trading Ben Simmons."
On the eve of the Sixers' final preseason game, James Harden trade discussions have reportedly taken another interesting turn.
ESPN reported Thursday night that “the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden,” but that talks between the Sixers and Rockets have “come nowhere close to a deal.”
According to ESPN, Houston has “ongoing discussions on several fronts” and has expanded discussions beyond Harden’s preferred destinations of the Brooklyn Nets and Sixers.
None of the Rockets' discussions are in "an advanced stage" because of Houston's "steep asking price," ESPN reports.
If Simmons is on the table, the Sixers would seem well-positioned to offer the Rockets the most attractive package for Harden. The 24-year-old Simmons already has a Rookie of the Year award, two All-Star appearances and an All-Defensive First Team honor on his résumé.
Yaron Weitzman reported Monday that the Rockets were asking for three first-round picks from the Sixers in addition to Simmons. That would likely explain the teams reportedly not being near a deal at the moment despite the Sixers’ openness to dealing away a young star. Of course, we also don’t know all the details of what other teams are willing to offer or whether any new contenders might emerge. Along with the Sixers and Nets, The Athletic’s Shams Charania had previously reported that the Bucks and Heat were among Harden’s preferred destinations.
The Sixers have, until this point, been committed to building around Simmons and Joel Embiid. The idea of seeing how that duo looks early in the season with a new head coach in Doc Rivers and a reconstructed roster that includes shooters Danny Green and Seth Curry is surely appealing.
However, Simmons is the kind of talent a team usually needs to part with if it wants to have a shot at a former MVP like Harden.
The NBA announced Thursday that this season’s trade deadline is March 25. Harden is under contract for two more seasons and has a player option for the 2022-23 campaign.
The Sixers’ preseason finale is Thursday night against the Pacers and their regular season begins next Wednesday with a game against the Wizards.
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