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Woj: 76ers May Want More Than James Harden If Ben Simmons Included in Trade

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistDecember 18, 2020

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) drives toward the basket as Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The Philadelphia 76ers would reportedly seek a package that includes more than James Harden in order to make Ben Simmons available in a trade with the Houston Rockets.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski discussed the complexity of a potential Harden-Simmons swap Friday on ESPN Radio's Keyshawn, JWill and Zubin, saying it's "really hard" to envision a scenario in which Harden lands with the Sixers unless Simmons is involved (discussion begins around 1:30 mark):

The rumors about a potential deal involving the two All-Stars have persisted despite 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey's stance on a trade of Simmons.

"We are not trading Ben Simmons—he is an important part of our future," Morey told Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium on Thursday.

Though there was talk during the offseason about whether Philadelphia would break up its core of Simmons and Joel Embiid after failing to reach championship-level expectations in recent years, the rumor mill remained mostly quiet on those two stars despite several other high-profile moves around the NBA.

Morey joined the Sixers front office in November after 14 years with the Rockets.

Harden was a perfect match for the analytically driven approach the former Houston general manager adopted, which placed an emphasis on shooting threes and taking the rest of shots around the rim, virtually eliminating the mid-range game.

Simmons wouldn't be the same type of fit as Harden in that type of offense. While he's among the NBA's best at getting to the rim from the perimeter, he's made just two three-pointers across three seasons.

So, at least on the surface, a Harden-Embiid tandem would make sense for Philadelphia, but acquiring Houston's superstar would be an all-in move. The 76ers would surely rather give up other assets to set up a title-worthy trio of Harden, Simmons and Embiid.

It doesn't sound like the Rockets are interested in a trade that doesn't involve Simmons, however, so the sides could be at a stalemate with the regular season starting next week.

Both teams begin play Wednesday, with the Rockets hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Sixers hosting the Washington Wizards.

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