- Houston Rockets superstar James Harden is the focus of NBA trade rumors after the Philadelphia 76ers hired Daryl Morey
- Odds heavily favor Harden remaining with Houston – it’s +600 for the former MVP to be traded to Philly
- With Morey set to swing big this offseason, is it worth betting on Harden getting traded to the Sixers?
The Philadelphia 76ers will be among the most active teams this offseason as Daryl Morey looks to revamp a roster that massively disappointed last season. Morey arrives to an ill-fitting roster and two of the league’s worst contracts in Tobias Harris and Al Horford.
Philly are title outsiders for next season as it stands – Morey will be on the lookout for blockbuster trades that can make the Sixers into legitimate contenders and allow them to bring the best of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Could Morey look to swing a trade with his former team? Is a reunion with James Harden possible?
The latest Harden trade odds suggest a move to Philly is unlikely for The Beard, but never write anything off when Morey is involved.
Odds James Harden is Traded to Philadelphia 76ers
Odds taken on November 9th
Earlier this month, it was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that Morey will pursue a trade for Harden. Charania added that several other teams have shown interest in Harden, which is unsurprising for a perennial MVP candidate.
Unfortunately for Morey, it’s a resounding no from Houston’s side at this stage. Of course, that could change quickly in this strangest of offseasons.
Crucially, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been very cautious with the luxury tax since he took over the team. Fertitta’s billions come from casinos, restaurants and hotels – his finances have obviously taken a massive hit in the pandemic.
A further reluctance to spend on this Rockets roster (which has over $80 million committed to Harden and Russell Westbrook next season alone) could either tempt Fertitta into a rebuild or make Harden ask for a trade.
"I'm told Philadelphia is expected to be interested in and pursue James Harden"
— Stadium (@Stadium) November 3, 2020
Morey will be waiting. Any inclination that the Rockets would listen to offers, and he will be at the front of the queue to lure his former franchise into a deal.
Ambitious Trade Packages
As with every offseason, there are outrageous trade suggestions floated. One of the most ambitious comes from FanSided’s Andrew Hughes, who concocted an extraordinary four-team deal which would see the Sixers land Harden and Gordon Hayward without giving up Simmons or Embiid. It would be generous to call such a proposal far-fetched.
If the Sixers are to lure the Rockets into trading one of the greatest scorers in league history, they must relinquish Embiid or Simmons. The Rockets will surely not consider a deal for anything less.
Horford or Harris plus every possible pick and the Sixers’ young players would not be enough for Houston. Shake Milton, Furkan Korkmaz and Matisse Thybulle do not have enough value for that framework to be feasible.
Fitting With Embiid or Simmons
Picking between Embiid and Simmons might depend on long-term health. The fit alongside Harden can work for either, though it’s more straight forward with Embiid. Simmons will spend much less time with the ball in his hands alongside Harden, but he could be a brilliant pick-and-roll partner for the former Thunder guard, catching lobs and playmaking off short rolls.
The Embiid and Harden offensive fit is mouth-watering. Pick-and-rolls would be un-guardable. Harden would stretch defenses to allow Embiid space in the post. Opposing defenders will be unable to trap and double Harden without risking an easy bucket for Embiid.
While both Simmons and Embiid are potential MVP talents, neither fit particularly well with Westbrook. Simmons and Westbrook is about as poor a fit as one can imagine. Playing with Westbrook would provide many of the same issues for Embiid as Simmons does.
Perhaps the Rockets are not fussed about their NBA Championship odds if they trade Harden. The fit with Westbrook might not matter to them (maybe they trade him, too). Houston could quickly re-tool, building a team of shooters around Simmons.
Unlikely This Offseason
A Simmons for Harden swap would require filler salary. Mike Scott could be chucked into the deal to make it work, or the Rockets could receive the trio of young players in Milton, Korkmaz and Thybulle. Maybe Philly start to feel uncomfortable about giving up three, low-cost rotation players.
The Sixers and Rockets are two organizations poised to do something big. This offseason might be a bit early for a Harden trade, though. Both look set to run it back with their star duos once more. If they disappoint in 2020-21, a Simmons for Harden trade becomes much more likely.
As much as Morey craves a reunion with Harden, there’s no value backing Harden to the Sixers at this point.
Let's have fun and keep it civil.