With Ben Simmons on the trade block and out of the Philadelphia 76ers' lineup, the Sixers continue to search for a trade they desire. From the beginning of the Simmons saga, it's been clear the Sixers want to land an All-Star as opposed to a package containing role players and picks.
For a while, the Sixers were linked to Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard as it seemed there was a chance he could grow disgruntled and ask for a way out. But Lillard proved time and time again that it won't happen. Not this season, at least.
No player has been cited as a top trade target for the Sixers more than Lillard -- but lately, that's changed. As the future of Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden is starting to be questioned, the former MVP is once again being linked to the 76ers.
Last season, when Harden was looking for a way out of Houston, the Sixers were among the top suitors for his services. Ultimately, the Brooklyn Nets won the Harden sweepstakes. And although Brooklyn looked to lock Harden in long-term with an extension, the Nets star declined to sign at the time.
As expected, Harden downplayed the idea of leaving, but recent reports have indicated that the star guard is interested in testing the free agency market for the first time in his career this upcoming offseason. And in that case, the Sixers are expected to be interested in acquiring Harden once again.
Kendrick Perkins Adds Fuel to the Fire
Harden denied having any thoughts of leaving Brooklyn in the summer as expected.
But where there is smoke, there is fire. And former NBA big man and current ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins recently reported that Harden's interest in potentially leaving Brooklyn after the 2021-2022 season is very real.
"Harden's camp people can come and say 'that's cap,' this ain't cap," Perkins claimed. "James Harden's camp is delivering to Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers that he has serious, serious, serious interest in being in Philly next season."
Although Brooklyn remains one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference with a 29-18 record, it seems everything isn't perfect within the organization. However, whatever obstacles they are currently dealing with could surely be cured by winning a championship.
If Brooklyn goes all the way this season, it's tough to imagine Harden packs up and leaves. But if the Nets come up short once again, the chances of Harden considering teaming up with Joel Embiid and the Sixers could increase.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.