NBA rumors had linked the Philadelphia 76ers to star guard James Harden ahead of the three-time reigning scoring champion being traded to the Brooklyn Nets earlier in January.
For Philadelphia, it made sense to go after Harden given that he has a great relationship with 76ers front office head Daryl Morey dating back to their days together with Houston.
The 76ers ultimately pulled out of trade talks despite offering up Ben Simmons. That’s primarily because Houston demanded stud rookie Tyrese Maxey as part of a package for Harden.
We’re now hearing some more information directly from first-year 76ers head coach Doc Rivers. It’s some rather interesting stuff and could be a harbinger of things to come.
Philadelphia 76ers continue to be active on NBA trade front
“Daryl’s had several trades so far that I’ve said, ‘No, I don’t want to do that,’ and he moves on. That’s the type of relationship you have to have when you have coach and management, I think it works that way,” Doc Rivers said on the Rich Eisen Show Tuesday.
Obviously, most of the talk between now and the NBA trade deadline in March will surround Ben Simmons. It was initially noted that the enigmatic former No. 1 pick could be had in a Harden trade.
While Morey pushed back against that, reports following Harden’s deal to Brooklyn suggested that Simmons was indeed available. As noted above, it was more about Philadelphia’s unwillingness to move Maxey and draft pick assets for Harden.
Since then, one unnamed NBA executive went on record bashing Simmons for his inability to improve after Philadelphia took him No. 1 overall back in 2016. Thus far this season, the All-Star is averaging what would be a career-low 12.3 points to go with 9.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists. He’s also shooting 50% from the field compared to a 58% mark a season ago.
It’s more than possible Morey was attempting to increase Simmons’ trade value in his public support for the embattled 24-year-old guard. That would make sense given that the 76ers’ front office head knows how this game is played.
Will NBA rumors point to an active trade season for the Philadelphia 76ers?
It’s safe to conclude that Simmons could be had for the right price. However, Philadelphia boasts the second-best record in the Eastern Conference at 9-5. The team would have to improve over the short term if it were to break up the Simmons, Joel Embiid core.
Just as likely as it is for Philadelphia to move Simmons, it makes sense for Morey and Co. to trade young players and draft picks to upgrade its roster.
Assuming for a second Maxey is off limits, the likes of Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Isaiah Joe could be used as chips. The 76ers also have their own first-round picks for the next seven years as well as two additional second-round picks to entice teams. That doesn’t even take into account Tobias Harris’ bloated contract to make the salaries work.
As of right now, there’s no telling who Morey has been talking to. What we do know is that he was trade happy as the Rockets’ general manager. Given what we heard from Doc Rivers on Tuesday, there’s no reason to believe that will change ahead of the March trade deadline.
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