Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has denied reports that Australian superstar Ben Simmons is being made available in a blockbuster NBA trade for James Harden.
Former league MVP Harden reportedly wants out of the Houston Rockets – Morey’s former team – and the rumour mill has consistently thrown up Philadelphia as a likely trade partner.
The 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 aren’t fluid as of now.”
Morey then spoke to The Athletic to try and put out the spot fire.
“We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future,” Morey said.
Harden is a superior player to Simmons but the Aussie 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 went public.
The 76ers, meanwhile, have tweaked their supporting cast around Simmons and Joel Embiid while adding championship coach Doc Rivers.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that “while the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden, those talks have come nowhere close to a deal.”
Wojnarowski added that “several playoff calibre teams in the Eastern and Western conferences” were interested in giving up significant assets to acquire Harden, the league’s most unstoppable offensive talent.
“It is interesting because James Harden is two years away from being 33 and asking for a max contract,” ESPN’s Zach Lowe said on a recent podcast.
“And Ben Simmons is under contract for the next five seasons.
“He’s 24 and he just made an All-NBA team.
“James Harden is better, but Ben Simmons is seven years younger, under team control 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 get nothing more than Ben Simmons and you’ll like it and that’s it.’
“And maybe they never talk, maybe it never happens…
“I don’t know what the end game is but even saying all that, I’d be surprised that at some point the Sixers don’t have talks about it.”