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Sixers ‘most likely’ to land Harden as trade ‘tension’ could end in Simmons heading out the door

James Harden’s pursuit for a trade from the Houston Rockets is reportedly down to four teams.
James Harden’s pursuit for a trade from the Houston Rockets is reportedly down to four teams.

The Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat.

But one of those teams in particular keeps popping up in reporting.

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The Rockets insist (for now) they will not trade Harden. The Sixers insist (for now) they will not trade Ben Simmons

But sources say the familiarity between the front offices can ultimately defuse any lingering tension from Daryl Morey's departure from Houston to Philadelphia

— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) December 11, 2020

The New York Times’ Marc Stein reports that while both the Sixers and Rockets are adamant it won’t happen (for now), a trade between Harden and Ben Simmons is still a possibility.

“As the NBA preseason begins tonight Philadelphia ranks as the most likely destination when the Rockets eventually reach the point of trading James Harden, league sources say,” Stein tweeted.

“The Rockets insist (for now) they will not trade Harden. The Sixers insist (for now) they will not trade Ben Simmons. But sources say the familiarity between the front offices can ultimately defuse any lingering tension from Daryl Morey’s departure from Houston to Philadelphia.”

There are plenty of strong reasons to back up the suggestion that former Houston shot-caller Morey would be keen to take Harden over to Philadelphia.

He previously called Harden the best offensive player he had ever seen, which generated plenty of discussion in the NBA world.

But he stood by those comments, so it is clear that Morey thinks very highly of Harden — so highly that he would be a good chance of offering Houston a particularly lucrative offer.

Along with Simmons, the Sixers also have the potential for the strongest trade offer with one future first-round pick and other young players like Matisse Thybulle.

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Sixers star's new chemistry

Sixers star's new chemistry

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Finally, there could be benefits for Philadelphia given the fit issues Simmons has with Joel Embiid.

Of course, all the public messaging out of the Sixers camp points towards the organisation refusing to break the star duo up.

Morey also took just a few hours to solve Philly’s big problem and set up the pieces Simmons and Embiid need to work as a duo.

“Joel and Ben will be here for a long time,” Morey said in November.

“We have 2 young superstars in their prime and you want to build around them. With Seth Curry and (Danny Green): trying to improve the fit and increase the flexibility. The shooters change the dynamic for Joel and Ben.”

Wizards CRUSH announcement

Wizards CRUSH announcement

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No-one is denying that both sides appear hesitant to hold any serious talks but The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports there is an obvious scenario which could see a potential trade gain more traction.

“In theory, however, Houston could wait out the potential availability of Simmons should Philadelphia get off to a slow start,” he wrote.

If Simmons and Embiid still struggle to gel early it could be seed of doubt needed to convince the Sixers to jump at the opportunity to take Harden in case the experiment still does not work.

They seem to be the most likely landing spot anyway given that the Rockets reportedly have no interest in a Nets offer unless it involves either Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.

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