As the wait for a Ben Simmons trade continues, the Philadelphia 76ers appear to be steadfast in their desire to wait for a superstar to become available to them this offseason.
On The Hoop Collective Podcast (starts at 47:25 mark), ESPN's Brian Windhorst reported "some executives in the NBA believe that one of the end games for Ben Simmons is that he's traded for James Harden in a sign-and-trade next summer."
Harden was connected to the 76ers last season before he was ultimately traded to the Brooklyn Nets.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported in January the Sixers thought a deal with the Houston Rockets was done at one point last season that the agents for Simmons and Matisse Thybulle told them to expect an announcement.
The Nets ultimately landed Harden on Jan. 14 in a three-team deal with the Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Despite arriving in Brooklyn one year ago, Harden's long-term status with the organization remains unsettled. He can become a free agent this summer by turning down his $47.4 million player option.
Harden could have signed an extension with the Nets before the Oct. 18 deadline, but he elected not to. The nine-time All-Star told reporters after Brooklyn's season-opening loss to the Milwaukee Bucks he doesn't "plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have."
It's unclear if Harden's struggles so far this season could change the Nets' plans. The 32-year-old is averaging 22.4 points, 9.7 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game, but he's only shooting 41.7 percent overall and 33.1 percent from three-point range.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has an established relationship with Harden. They made the playoffs in each of their eight seasons together with the Rockets from 2012-20.
Simmons has yet to appear in a game this season for the 76ers. The three-time All-Star is owed a total of $113.4 million over the next three seasons. He has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game in 275 starts with Philadelphia.