The Philadelphia 76ers were reportedly very closed to landing James Harden before the Brooklyn Nets pulled off the blockbuster 4-team trade that sent the Beard to the Barclays Center earlier this week. It appeared to be a done deal but everything fell apart and the Nets took the lead of the race and eventually, the player.
Harden is now part of the Nets but the chances that he was going to the Sixers were bigger than we think. According to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Sixers were convinced they had struck a deal for Harden and Ben Simmons and Matisse Thybulle were informed they were going to be traded last Wednesday. During a recent Q&A session, Pompey dropped the bomb and revealed some big secrets.
Well, there were some who thought Houston would make a deal with the Sixers because the Rockets made it clear they wanted a young cornerstone player and multiple draft picks. Regardless of how much the Rockets didn’t want to deal with the Sixers, Ben Simmons was the best available young cornerstone player.
After analyzing the information surrounding the Harden trade, yes, the Rockets did play the Sixers.
Pompey explained that Tilman Fertitta didn't want Harden to join Daryl Morey in Philly and also the revenue for Harden wouldn't have been as good as it was with the Nets, Cavaliers and Pacers.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta did not want to make a deal with the Sixers due to Morey leaving Houston to become the Sixers president of basketball operations, as reported. And if he made a deal, Fertitta was only going to make it for Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey and two draft picks, according to sources. However, a source close to the Sixers denied that Maxey was part of the deal.
Another league source said the Rockets never called the Sixers back for a counteroffer before making the four-team blockbuster deal that sent Harden to Brooklyn.
Let’s be honest, Simmons and Houston point guard John Wall wouldn’t be a great fit. They both need the ball. The Rockets had to know that wouldn’t work.
But the Sixers thought they had a deal for Harden done, according to sources. The team won’t come out and say it, but Morey pushed hard to reunite with the 2018 MVP. Simmons and Thybulle were even informed by their agents on Wednesday of an expected trade.
After the deals were done, Ben Simmons reportedly expressed his happiness to be staying in Philadelphia and not be included in any trade for James Harden. He's still part of the Sixers and the team is hoping he can get the team to win the championship alongside Joel Embiid. The Sixers are having a good start to the season and even though Simmons was about to be traded away, now the focus is on taking this team as far as they can in the league.