As the Philadelphia 76ers continue to evaluate potential trade packages to acquire Houston's James Harden, the question of whether the team would consider moving two-time All-Star Ben Simmons in exchange for Harden has been a central focus.
After previously reporting that Philadelphia was open to dealing Simmons, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said the team is not considering trading Simmons.
"We are not trading Ben Simmons," Morey said, per Charania. "He is an important part of our future."
Morey's statement falls in line with an earlier report from The Athletic's Sam Amick, who reported that Simmons "remains off-limits" in any potential Harden deal, and that the team preferred to let new coach Doc Rivers work with the current roster.
Harden made his preseason debut on Wednesday, scoring 12 points with four assists in 21 minutes. Afterward, when asked about reports that the former MVP has requested a trade, Harden responded: “Right now I’m just focused on being here."
Harden's list of desired destinations is limited to contenders, with Philadelphia among a group that included Miami and Brooklyn. Houston is also engaging with those teams to try and reach a deal, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne.
On Wednesday, reports surfaced about Harden's outsized role in the decision-making for Houston, from personnel decisions to the extracurricular traveling, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon. Among other issues, Harden reportedly pushed for the departures of former coach Kevin McHale and teammates Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
Harden, 31, has two years remaining on his contract, plus a player option for the 2022–23 season. The former MVP won the NBA scoring title for the third straight year last season, averaging 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game.