Longtime Houston Rockets standout and former Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden is now officially a member of the Brooklyn Nets, teaming up with veteran point guard Kyrie Irving and superstar forward Kevin Durant, among others. The deal also also included the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers in the massive negotiation.
However, it appears as though the Philadelphia 76ers were very much in the mix in terms of potentially acquiring Harden on Wednesday evening, according to a recent report from Jason Dumas of KRON4 in the Bay Area.
It isn’t all that surprising that Philadelphia didn’t ultimately wind up with Harden in the “City of Brotherly Love,” considering that former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey now leads the Sixers front office–which made things a bit contentious on both sides.
It is worth noting, though, that the Rockets could have possibly secured quite the haul from Philadelphia if the team did choose to trade Harden to the Sixers.
Source: The Rockets asked for Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and a number of unprotected draft picks in compensation for James Harden.
— Jason Dumas (@JDumasReports) January 13, 2021
Not only would the Rockets have received up-and-coming swingman Matisse Thybulle and rookie guard Tyrese Maxey, both of which are coming into their own in Philadelphia, but Houston would have also garnered All-Star point guard Ben Simmons, who obviously would have been at the forefront of any such deal.
With Harden still one of the top all-around players in the league today, the Rockets also wanted a slew of unprotected future first-round NBA Draft picks from the Sixers in the same deal. Perhaps the presence of the aforementioned Morey upped the ante when Houston was negotiating with Philly, as the Nets eventually managed to swoop in to execute a blockbuster trade.
The Rockets still made out well after adding guard Dante Exum from the Cavaliers, swingman Rodions Kurucs from the Nets and All-Star guard Victor Oladipo from the Pacers. With this trio now slated to join the likes of point guard John Wall, forward Christian Wood and big man DeMarcus Cousins in Houston, the future doesn’t seem that bad for H-Town. Plus, they added four future first-round NBA Draft picks alongside four future pick swaps.
On the other hand, the Nets obviously got a player like Harden that will immediately improve an already dangerous squad, something that will make the life even harder for the Sixers in the East.
Even though the 76ers’ hot start has since flamed out due to some injury troubles and COVID-19 complications, Philadelphia remains in position to succeed with Ben Simmons suiting up alongside center Joel Embiid, forward Tobias Harris and countless role players that can contribute on both ends of the floor.
It is a very real possibility that the Sixers will be better off not trading for Harden, as the Nets just gave up more than a few potentially vital pieces of the franchise’s future in order to win right now. This simply wasn’t worth the risk in the end.