Stein’s Latest: Sixers, McConnell, Hayes, Ntilikina

A year ago, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey described his relationship with James Harden as a “mutual lovefest” before the star guard hit free agency, eventually taking a pay cut to help Philadelphia build out its roster, Marc Stein writes at Substack.

However, a year later, the relationship between Morey and Harden is said to be “essentially fractured,” with the 33-year-old unhappy about how his free agency played out this time around. He has since issued a trade request and is intent on joining the Clippers. Morey publicly confirmed last week that the rift was over Harden’s contract and the Sixers’ unwillingness to meet his ask.

Should the Sixers regret trading for Harden? Despite rumors to the contrary, sources tell Stein that the Kings never offered Tyrese Haliburton in any trade with the Sixers for Ben Simmons ahead of the February 2022 deadline. Haliburton, of course, ended up getting moved to Indiana in a multiplayer deal that sent back All-NBA big man Domantas Sabonis, while Simmons was sent to Brooklyn as part of the package for Harden.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • The Suns are still interested in Pacers guard T.J. McConnell, league sources tell Stein, but there doesn’t appear to be a viable pathway to a deal at this time. As Stein notes, Phoenix recently traded Cameron Payne to San Antonio, and he was the only obvious salary-matching piece for a possible deal with Indiana. The Suns may revisit a McConnell trade down the road once their free agents become trade-eligible in mid-December, but Stein hears the veteran guard hopes to remain with the Pacers.
  • According to Stein, the Pistons initiated trade conversations with the Mavericks in an effort to unload former No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes, but those talks “gained little traction.” Detroit has several guards on the roster, including multiple offseason additions. Although Dallas remains intrigued by Pistons forward Bojan Bogdanovic, the team’s top trade priority is believed to be a center upgrade, Stein adds.
  • Prior to signing Kemba Walker, EuroLeague club AS Monaco considered signing free agent guard Frank Ntilikina, Stein reports. The No. 8 pick of the 2017 draft, Ntilikina spent his first four seasons with the Knicks and spent the past two seasons with the Mavericks. He appeared in 47 games in 2022/23 for an average of 12.9 MPG.
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