James Harden’s desire to leave the Houston Rockets is unwavering as he attempts to coax a trade out of town. For as long as he’s been on the hypothetical trade market, the Philadelphia 76ers have not lagged far behind.
The Sixers are a preferred trade destination for Harden, one of the elite offensive producers in the game having led the league in scoring in each of the past three seasons.
Such a talent would potentially put the 76ers at the very top of the conversation for Eastern Conference supremacy alongside the likes of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
But with Harden under contract for the next three seasons, the Rockets are understandably looking for a king’s ransom in return for the start. On Monday, former NBA scribe Yaron Weitzman reported that the Rockets have asked for three first-round draft picks and All-Star point guard Ben Simmons.
Multiple reports have already made it clear that the 76ers are unwilling to give up the 24-year-old, however, Marc Stein of the New York Times said on Friday that Philadelphia is still Harden’s “most likely destination” if he is traded.
Other preferred trade destinations include the Nets, Bucks, and Miami Heat.
Harden has seen the core of his Rockets team gutted in recent months, including the firing of head coach Mike D’Antoni, the parting of ways with GM Daryl Morey — who is now the Sixers’ president of basketball operations — and the trading of Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall.
The arrival of Wall has not done much to change Harden’s stance on staying with the Rockets, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Harden would undeniably bring star firepower to the Sixers’ ranks, creating one of the most fearsome duos in the league alongside Joel Embiid, but if the price were Simmons, that would mean abandoning a more certain future.