Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has denied reports that Australian superstar Ben Simmons is being made available in a hit NBA trade for James Harden.
Former league MVP Harden is reportedly keen to leave the Houston Rockets – Morey’s former team – and the rumor has always made Philadelphia a likely business partner.
Athletic’s Shams Charania tweeted that “the Philadelphia 76ers have made Ben Simmons available in some packages with the Houston Rockets for James Harden”.
Charania added that “conversations are not smooth at the moment”.
Morey then spoke to Athletic to try to put out the fire.
“We’re not trading Ben Simmons – he’s an important part of our future,” Morey said.
Harden is a superior player to Simmons but the Australian has youth and a cheaper contract on his side.
The Rockets face an uncertain future as Morey, coach Mike D’Antoni and All-Star Russell Westbrook all moved on before Harden’s trade demands were made public.
The 76ers, meanwhile, have tweaked their supporting cast around Simmons and Joel Embiid while adding championship coach Doc Rivers.
ESPN Adrian Wojnarowski reported that “although the Sixers have shown their willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in the trade packages for Harden, these talks have not come to fruition.”
Wojnarowski added that “several playoff-caliber teams in the Eastern and Western conferences” were interested in relinquishing important assets to acquire Harden, the league’s most unstoppable offensive talent.
“It’s interesting because James Harden is two years away from turning 33 and asking for a maximum contract,” ESPN Zach Lowe said on a recent podcast.
“And Ben Simmons is under contract for the next five seasons.
“He’s 24 years old and just made a part of an All-NBA team.
“James Harden is better, but Ben Simmons is seven years younger, under the control of the team at a cheaper price for much longer …
“I could see the Sixers saying ‘no, he’s seven years younger and his contract is better. You don’t get anything more than Ben Simmons and you’ll love him and that’s it. “
“And maybe they never speak, maybe that never happens …
“I don’t know what the end of the game is but even if I say all that I would be surprised if at some point the Sixers don’t talk about it.”