The Sixers are among the teams expected to show interest in and pursue a trade for former MVP James Harden this offseason, reports Shams Charania of Stadium (video link). However, according to Charania, any teams inquiring on Harden can expect to receive “an emphatic no” from the Rockets. The idea of a trading the superstar guard is a non-starter for Houston at this point, Charania adds.
While Charania’s report does confirm that the Sixers and other clubs will show interest in Harden, most of this information isn’t new. Last week, after word broke that longtime Rockets GM Daryl Morey would be hired as the 76ers’ president of basketball operations, there was speculation about a potential Philadelphia pursuit of Harden. ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said that Houston’s answer would be a “firm no.”
The Rockets are undergoing major changes this offseason, with Morey and head coach Mike D’Antoni both departing, having been replaced by new GM Rafael Stone and new coach Stephen Silas. It makes sense that teams across the league would poke around to see if Houston wants to make some major roster changes as well, but it doesn’t appear that’s in the cards for this fall.
Stone was a longtime Morey lieutenant in the Rockets’ front office, so this isn’t a case of an outside executive coming in and wanting to reshape a roster based on his philosophies — Stone’s vision likely isn’t too dissimilar to Morey’s.
Additionally, team owner Tilman Fertitta has stated that the Rockets have no plans to “blow up” their roster anytime soon. The plan instead is to try to make upgrades around the current core in the hopes of contending again in 2021.
If the Rockets take a step backward next season, the idea of trading Harden could become more palatable, and the Sixers – who have a pair of All-Stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons – would be an intriguing potential trade partner. But it seems unlikely that there will be any action on that front within the next few weeks.