Last week, former Houston Rockets star James Harden became a member of the Brooklyn Nets through a blockbuster trade. In the hours leading up to the deal, the Philadelphia 76ers were rumored to be in on the action as Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey hoped to reunite with his superstar.
Unfortunately for Morey and the Sixers, the Rockets likely used them to drive up Brooklyn's offer before officially parting ways with Harden. Now, the Sixers are left without James Harden and stuck in a difficult situation with All-Star Ben Simmons.
Although Simmons claims the trade talks haven't affected him over the last month or so, it's difficult to assume that the off-court rumors haven't taken a toll on his play in any way. The 24-year-old guard's choice to publicly take the high road in the situation is admirable, but it's unclear how he really feels about his team at this point.
Now that there have been numerous reports that Simmons was part of a possible trade package that "almost" landed the Sixers James Harden last week, many are questioning whether the young star is in Philly for the long haul or not.
As other standout stars around the league shine on struggling teams, the Sixers could get in on more trade action soon. Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal and Chicago Bulls standout Zach LaVine haven't demanded any trades just yet, but The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor believes it could only be a matter of time before they do.
If the veteran stars decide they want to land on a team that's ready to compete now, O'Connor believes the Sixers could soon be in on the action.
"The Sixers missed out on Harden. There’s no other way around it. Harden would have given them what they lack in a superstar perimeter shot-creator. But the price was undeniably high. League sources say the Rockets demanded Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and three first-round picks from the Sixers in return for Harden.
You can’t blame Morey for refusing to go all in when there’s long-term risk in adding a 31-year-old who has only two guaranteed seasons left on his deal. There also could be other options available eventually from losing teams, such as Washington’s Bradley Beal or Chicago’s Zach LaVine."
Harden to Philly rumors have been loud for the last few months, but LaVine and Beal rumors have quietly made their rounds as well. Back in November, hours before the 2020 NBA Draft, Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill reported the following:
"Bradley Beal and Zach LaVine have been hot names around the league, according to league sources. Philadelphia has been one among many, but the Wizards and Bulls have rebuffed overtures."
As noted before, the chances of Chicago parting ways with LaVine seem much higher than the chances Washington trading Beal away in the same season they dealt away John Wall. While a possible deal for Beal or LaVine is certainly an interesting option for the 76ers, serious discussion probably won't occur until closer to the trade deadline barring any significant changes.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_