NBA trade deadline is approaching, and talks about James Harden's potential trade to the 76ers are heating up. It's no secret Daryl Morey would love to see the Nets superstar paired up with Joel Embiid, and given his track record, the Sixers' president of basketball operations will do whatever it takes to make that happen. That's why the rest of the league is on the lookout.
Ben Simmons for James Harden trade
With Ben Simmons still not being mentally ready to play, Philly is looking to get the rest of his 5-year, $177 million contract of the books. A few teams have emerged as potential trade partners for the star point guard, but so far, Morey decided to hold on to him until there's an equal-value offer on the table -- the 76ers are seeking an All-Star caliber player and four first round picks in return.
Harden has by no mean been made available for a trade, nor did he publicly say he wants to leave Brooklyn. But according to Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer, the 32-year-old might be open for a change of scenery next season after growing frustrated with uncertanties surrounding the Nets' roster -- he's been vocal about Kyrie Irving's part-time availability, and Kevin Durant's recent injury only aggravated the situation.
For now, the Nets made it clear they won't listen to trade deadline offers for their superstar shooting guard. However, Harden's looming interest to test the 2022 free agency raises questions about his long-term future with the organization. That's enough for most executives to keep an eye on the situation. For Morey, it's the only incentive he needs.
Concerns about Morey/Harden tampering
Fischer himself wrote about Harden's apparent openness to joining Joel Embiid and Daryl Morey. It's also no secret Morey loved working with James in Houson, and would love to reunite with him in Philadelphia. If the former MVP becomes available, the Sixers' executive is bound to do whatever to acquire him from Brooklyn. However, there's a growing concern around the league that Daryl has already kicked off that campaign.
Other teams are concerned that Sixers executive Daryl Morey is tampering with Harden like they believed he did in his run with the Houston Rockets to acquire Chris Paul.
Eric Pincus, Bleacher Report
Paul also had a player option heading into the 2017/18 offseason with the Clippers. The team had hoped to resign him to a longer deal, but instead, Chris gave them an ultimatum: trade me to Houston or watch me leave for nothing. Daryl, then-Rockets GM, eventually acquired CP3 for Pat Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker and a first-round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.
Harden also has a player option for the next season, worth $47.4 million, and could just as well force his team into trading with Morey. But unlike the 2018 offseason, very few teams will go into this summer with enough cap room to sign a player of Harden's caliber -- the Pistons, Spurs, and Thunder are the only organizations capable of doing it as of right now. That means sign-and-trade might be the only option for the Nets, assuming their superstar wants out.
As of now, we know the Nets will keep James past deadline for another shot at an NBA title. If (yes, another one) however, their season ends the same ways as last one, Harden will undoubtedly become the hottest free agency topic this summer. Then, you better believe Daryl Morey will be the first person to pick up the phone.