The notion of the Sixers trading for James Harden might have sounded preposterous at one stage.
At least two parties are required for any trade, and multiple reports indicated the Rockets had no interest in trading the NBA’s top scorer.
Now, a report Wednesday from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon says “a new challenge is emerging” for Houston, with Harden and Russell Westbrook expressing “concern about the direction of the franchise.”
Both Westbrook and Harden endorsed the hiring of new head coach Stephen Silas. Daryl Morey’s replacement as GM, Rafael Stone, also called Harden the team’s “key piece.” Still, the Rockets’ belief in Harden ultimately doesn’t mean much if he isn’t pleased with the situation there.
While Harden “remains engaged in discussions with the Houston front office about potential personnel moves this offseason,” per ESPN, this line from the report is certainly notable: “Although neither (Harden nor Westbrook) has requested a trade at this point, that scenario has become a plausible eventual possibility.”
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported Tuesday that teams believe Westbrook could be available in a trade, and that the Knicks and Clippers have interest in him.
The NBA draft is set for next Wednesday and free agent negotiations will begin next Friday night. There’s no official time yet for the opening of the league’s transaction window, though Wojnarowski reported that talks are progressing toward a date two or three days before the draft.
Morey suggested at his introductory press conference that he doesn’t intend on replicating the Rockets in Philadelphia, but the Sixers’ reported interest in Harden is not a stunner. The trade between the Rockets and Thunder that brought Harden to Houston was a little over eight years ago, and Morey has strengthened his reputation as an executive not hesitant about pursuing stars since.
His deal for Westbrook did not work out as Houston hoped in Year 1, and now there’s a possibility it might contribute to Harden again being available.