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James Harden Trade Rumors: Rockets Expanding Talks Beyond 76ers, Nets

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IDecember 17, 2020

Houston Rockets guard James Harden leaves the court after their win against the San Antonio Spurs after an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Michael Wyke/Associated Press

The Houston Rockets are willing to engage teams outside of James Harden's preferred destinations in trade talks for the star guard. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Rockets are "expanding trade discussions" beyond the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, with Houston holding conversations on "several fronts."

According to Wojnarowski and Shelburne, the Sixers have indicated a willingness to include All-Star point guard Ben Simmons in a package for Harden, but Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey denied the report shortly after.

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

In response, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: “We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future.” https://t.co/W6T7HQjjoP

ESPN reported the asking price for Harden remains firm, with the Rockets requiring young players and draft picks to move one of the league's best scorers. Several "playoff-caliber" clubs have also reportedly shown a willingness to part with desirable assets to acquire Harden, but the timeline for a deal remains in flux. 

As far as the Nets go, a third team would likely be needed to complete any deal with Houston given that the Rockets are not interested in some of their trade chips. 

Houston is expected to begin the season with Harden on the roster despite the 31-year-old's desire to move on.

Wooing the Rockets with a trade offer is only half the battle, as whichever club lands him will need to make room under the salary cap for Harden's four-year, $171 million contract that has two years and a player option remaining. 

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