James Harden isn’t going to come for cheap.
The Rockets’ current asking price, though, is apparently quite lofty.
Yaron Weitzman, the author of an extensively reported book that chronicles the Sixers' Process, “Tanking to the Top,” tweeted on Monday morning that the Rockets have asked the Sixers for three first-round picks in addition to Ben Simmons.
That seems to indicate a wide gulf between the teams at this stage. Though Harden is a seven-time All-NBA selection and Simmons made his first All-NBA team last year, it’s relevant that the 24-year-old Australian is seven years younger than Harden, under contract through the 2024-25 season and on a team with revamped outside shooting and spacing.
If Houston wants three first-round picks along with Simmons and the Sixers aren’t willing to part with the two-time All-Star in the first place, a Sixers deal for Harden doesn’t appear especially close.
Of course, the Sixers aren’t the only team with interest in Harden. ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that Houston has talked with Harden’s “two primary preferred trade destinations,” which are the Nets and Sixers.
According to ESPN, the Rockets are “uninterested in a package primarily composed of the Nets' complementary players and draft picks” and Brooklyn doesn't plan on dealing away Kyrie Irving, which means the teams would “need to find a more palatable young player on a third team as part of a broader deal.”
Also of note from ESPN’s report: Harden remains “unmoved and uninterested in pursuing a new partnership” with John Wall after Houston acquired Wall and a protected 2023 first-round pick from the Wizards in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
For the Sixers, there’s obviously no need to rush into a trade or give the Rockets exactly what they’re seeking. Every player has a price, even former MVPs, and there’s no harm in the Sixers waiting to see just how much Houston’s price for Harden drops. At this point, it seems likely that it will.
We reviewed arguments for and against the Sixers trading for Harden here.