Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon, Harden previously informed the Rockets that he desired a trade to the Brooklyn Nets. With seemingly no progress being made on that front, Harden added the Sixers to his list of acceptable trade destinations.
Wojnarowski and MacMahon reported that Harden also “indicated that there could be other teams that fit his criteria for a preferred destination.”
Harden is currently holding out and has yet to report to the Rockets despite the fact that training camp has begun and the 2020-21 NBA regular season is set to start Dec. 22.
Philadelphia could be a sensible landing spot for Harden since the Sixers hired Daryl Morey as their president of basketball operations. Morey was the Rockets’ general manager for 13 years before parting ways with the organization this offseason, and he orchestrated the trade that brought Harden to Houston from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That trade paid dividends for Harden and the Rockets, as Harden has been named an All-Star in each of his eight seasons in Houston to go along with three scoring titles and one NBA MVP award.
Per Wojnarowski and MacMahon, there have been no “substantive” trade talks between the Rockets and Sixers, and part of that may be due to Morey’s reluctance to trade either center Joel Embiid or guard Ben Simmons.
Last month, Wojnarowski reported that Harden turned down a contract extension offer from the Rockets that would have paid him $50 million per season. Instead, Harden expressed a desire to get traded to Brooklyn and play alongside former Thunder teammate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
As has reportedly been the case with the Sixers thus far, no serious trade talks were had between the Rockets and Nets, however.
Part of that may be due to the fact that the Rockets needn’t rush into anything. Harden is under contract for at least two more seasons, which gives Houston time to make a decision.
If Harden’s holdout lasts into the 2020-21 season, though, it could potentially put the pressure on new Rockets general manager Rafael Stone to make a move on that front.
The Rockets have made one big move this offseason, trading guard Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards last week for guard John Wall and a lottery-protected 2023 first-round draft pick.
Wojnarowski reported that Harden preferred to play with Wall rather than Westbrook, but the Rockets were unsure if the move would be enough to keep him in Houston:
As of now, Harden still appears focused on getting traded elsewhere. If the Rockets refuse to do so, Harden will have to decide between spending 2020-21 with the Rockets or sitting out the season.
The Rockets could be a major threat in the Western Conference with a core of Harden, Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Christian Wood and Eric Gordon, among others, but their success will likely hinge largely on what Harden chooses to do.