The Houston Rockets haven't been willing to trade James Harden for over a month now. Weeks ago, Harden expressed concern regarding the future of the Rockets. After the departure of Mike D'Antoni and Daryl Morey, Harden believes the championship window is rapidly closing in Houston.
With a desire to compete for a championship now, Harden requested a trade. At first, Harden reportedly asked for the Rockets to get a deal done with the Brooklyn Nets, but Houston didn't want to talk shop unless they were getting Kyrie Irving or Kevin Durant in return.
As Brooklyn was becoming a pipe dream for Harden, the All-Star guard shifted his focus towards the Philadelphia 76ers. Once again, Houston was only willing to negotiate unless Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons were on the table.
Several reports have indicated Simmons is untouchable for the time being, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Thursday night that the Sixers have "signaled a willingness" to include Simmons in a trade for Harden. However, talks haven't gone very far.
Although Harden has asked to be traded to the Nets, Sixers, Milwaukee Bucks, or the Miami Heat, the Rockets are now reportedly open to expanding trade talks beyond Harden's preferred destinations, per Wojnarowski's report.
If the 76ers are willing to include the 24-year-old two-time All-Star Ben Simmons in a deal with the Rockets, they have a good shot at outbidding most teams who are also inquiring about the 31-year-old guard.
However, if Houston's still looking for Simmons and several first-rounders, there's a strong chance they'll have to look beyond Philly to strike a deal as the price is far too steep to pay for an aging guard who's not locked in on a long-term contract.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_