Philadelphia 76ers expected to pursue trade for Rockets star James Harden

By Vincent Frank
Sep 10, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) reacts after getting called for a foul in the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers in game four of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at AdventHealth Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

When it looked like the Philadelphia 76ers were going to land former Houston Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni, rumors persisted that a James Harden trade could be coming. Now that Doc Rivers is manning the bench in Philadelphia, said rumors died down a bit.

That’s not going to be the case moving forward with NBA free agency slated to start in just over two weeks.

Related: If you’re a fan of the 76ers, check out #PhilaUnite rumors, rankings, and news here.

Philadelphia 76ers targeting Rockets guard James Harden in a trade

As NBA insider Shams Charania noted, it appears that a Harden trade is a non-starter for the Rockets. They just recently hired former Dallas Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas to be their next head coach. He has a history of working with stud perimeter players, most recently Luka Doncic.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Rockets, check out #OneMission rumors, rankings, and news here.

Even then, this is a rather interesting report surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers. First off, any move to trade for Harden would likely include having to part with either Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. Reports out of Philadelphia following their early departure from the playoffs indicated that neither would be moved.

However, there’s another obvious backdrop to this.

Could new Philadelphia 76ers front office head Daryl Morey target James Harden?

Philadelphia shocked the NBA world earlier this offseason by bringing in this former Houston Rockets general manager to oversee the player personnel department with Elton Brand.

It goes without saying that Morey has a built-in relationship with Harden. He traded for the former league MVP back in 2012 and has had nothing but praise to throw in Harden’s direction. If the star guard is actually put on the trade block, Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers would make the most sense.

James Harden stats

One of the most-elite scorers in modern NBA history, Harden would obviously be a valuable trade chip if the Rockets opted to go in another direction. Harden’s point-per-game averages are just insane.

  • 2019-20: 34.3
  • 2018-19: 36.1
  • 2017-18: 30.4

Harden has also averaged at least 7.5 assists in each of these three seasons. These types of numbers transcend the Rockets and make him a valuable option for other teams.

Is a James Harden trade likely?

The short-form answer to this is a resounding no. Short of the Philadelphia 76ers giving up Simmons or Embiid as well as multiple players/picks, it’s highly unlikely that Harden will be moved.

It’s also pretty clear that Houston is still looking to build around the future Hall of Fame guard. Even then, don’t discount these rumors. The Rockets have a new brass. The Philadelphia 76ers do, too. We have no idea what’s going to happen on this front.