Philadelphia 76ers Now Heavy +125 Favorites in Odds to Trade for James Harden

James Harden bending
Did James Harden play his last game for the Rockets this week? (Photo by David Santiago/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
  • James Harden has taken another step towards forcing his way out of Houston after Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers
  • The former MVP is agitating for a trade away from the Rockets
  • Will Harden end up on the Sixers? See the odds on all potential trade partners for below

Following a blowout loss to the Lakers on Tuesday, James Harden said the Houston Rockets are ‘just not good enough’. Houston is at +5000 in the NBA Championship odds and sit 14th in the Western Conference with a 3-6 record.

Harden will not only have angered the Rockets’ front office by weakening their negotiating position, he also irritated teammate John Wall. The Rockets are in disarray.

Trade rumors surrounding the former MVP are going to pick up after his comments on Tuesday – the Philadelphia 76ers, currently depleted by COVID-19 protocols – are the heavy favorites to land Harden.

Odds on Team to Trade for James Harden

Team Odds
Philadelphia 76ers +125
Miami Heat +250
Brooklyn Nets +275
Milwaukee Bucks +900
Boston Celtics +900
Portland Trail Blazers +900
Toronto Raptors +1000
Denver Nuggets +1600
Los Angeles Clippers +2000

Odds as of Jan. 13th

Broken Rockets Relationship

Having tried to force his way out through not turning up and leaking a trade request, James Harden took a more direct approach on Tuesday. His comments after the loss to the Lakers were a crude attempt to push the Rockets into a trade.

Harden said, “I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can, I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”

He has no belief in the Rockets contending this season – Houston has been blown out by the Lakers in consecutive games. Harden scored a combined 36 points over those two games.

“We’re not even close, honestly, to that team – obviously the defending champions – and all the other elite teams out there. I mean, you can tell the difference in these last two games. We’re just not good enough – chemistry, talentwise, just everything. And it was clear these last two games.”

John Wall was brutally honest about the situation in his post-game comments, too. Harden’s chemistry with his new teammates is almost non-existent, and he’s clearly not interested in developing it. The Rockets are under increasing pressure to make a Harden trade, but no team has come close to meeting their asking price yet. A trade with their former executive Daryl Morey, centered around Ben Simmons, still seems like the most likely route out of this mess.

Harden refusing to play might be the next step he takes to push through a trade.

Frustrated Embiid

Joel Embiid carried the Sixers (again) on Tuesday. Ben Simmons fouled out and scored just five points, leaving Embiid to take over in the second half and overtime. After the game, the early MVP frontrunner said, “I can’t win the championship alone. I need my teammates.”

Embiid has had his fun in the media. He knows the impact of his every word. This specific quote was in reference to COVID-19 absences, but could it be a sly suggestion to make a trade? Has he had enough of Ben Simmons’ offensive struggles?

Perhaps Embiid and Harden are already in contact, trying to orchestrate a trade. The Sixers become immediate title contenders if they pair one of the game’s greatest ever scorers with the current version of Embiid, who is playing the best basketball of his career at both ends.

Philly has the most obvious trade package for Harden. Others listed above might have to construct multi-team deals. Houston reportedly isn’t interested in a deal centered around Caris LeVert, for instance, and it’s fair to wonder if they’d even be interested in Kyrie Irving.

Taking Advantage of Embiid’s Prime

The Sixers’ good start to the year can be read two ways. It can be seen as evidence Simmons and Embiid to work together. Or it can be viewed as evidence that Embiid is at his peak and needs to be on a contender right now. The latter viewpoint suggests a win-now trade for Harden makes sense – a lineup of Embiid, Harden, Tobias Harris, Danny Green and Seth Curry would be unstoppable offensively.

There’s also the COVID-19 factor. With so many missing through contact tracing and positive tests, Morey saw what Embiid achieved with minimal help on Tuesday. Simmons is the same offensive player he was last season – his attempts to be aggressive on Tuesday resulted in multiple offensive fouls.

The Sixers still make the most sense as a trade partner. Morey and Harden’s relationship is clearly an important factor. For now, though, Philly is in no rush – they have been the best team in the league when they’ve got all their starters available.

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