When Daryl Morey suddenly left the Houston Rockets' front office two offseasons ago, his next move was unclear. While Morey teased the idea of potentially getting a fresh start with a new job outside of the NBA, he was lured in by the Philadelphia 76ers and signed on to become their President of Basketball Operations.
Not too long after he landed in Philly, the James Harden trade rumors fired up. As Morey and Harden had a close relationship in Houston, many believed that if Harden were out on the Rockets, the 76ers would become favorites to land him.
Sure enough, Harden grew disgruntled and requested a trade. And to no one's surprise, the Sixers were once viewed as frontrunners for the Harden sweepstakes. According to countless reports at the time, the Sixers were willing to move a significant package centered by three-time All-Star Ben Simmons.
However, other reports indicated that the Rockets made it a goal to avoid helping form a Harden-Morey reunion in the NBA. Therefore, the Rockets gave the Sixers the runaround before eventually trading the former MVP to the Brooklyn Nets.
Now, the Sixers have some issues that have been public. Ben Simmons wants out of Philly. So, Morey wants what's been described as a "Harden-like" return for the All-Star. He hasn't received an offer worth making at this time and refuses to lower his high asking price right now.
As he remains patient, Morey and Philly's front office have reportedly put together a list of close to 30 prospects that could become available soon, so when they do, the Sixers can lead off trade talks using Simmons as a center piece.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the list includes obvious suspects such as Portland's Damian Lillard and Washington's Bradley Beal. In addition, Amick hints that Morey's pipe dream of bringing Harden to the City of Brotherly Love is still alive and well.
"As you may have heard by now, Portland’s Damian Lillard is not only on said list but somewhere near the top. Ditto for Brooklyn’s James Harden, the former Rocket with whom Morey tried unsuccessfully to reunite with in January and who, by the way, could come to Philly via sign-and-trade this summer if he decides to shock the basketball world and leave Kevin Durant behind. Also high on the list: Washington’s Bradley Beal. Those kinds of guys."
Not too long after Amick sprinkled Harden's name in the Ben Simmons saga, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported that another attempt to land Harden is "under consideration by Sixers brass."
Is Harden to Philly an impossible scenario? Not exactly. If the 32-year-old guard doesn't find a way to win a championship playing alongside Kevin Durant in Brooklyn as soon as this year, he could consider a fresh start.
Since Harden and Morey are close, the Sixers would definitely be high on the superstar's list as a potential destination they already were before. However, it's difficult to imagine leaving the Nets puts Harden in a better situation to win a title.
Although Brooklyn came up short in the playoffs last season, their postseason was derailed by injuries. A lot can change over time, and Harden could have a change of heart as this season plays out, but the idea of the former MVP joining forces with Morey once again in Philadelphia remains a pipe dream at this time.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.