The recent rumors centered on the 76ers’ interest in Nets star James Harden has opposing teams wondering if there might not be some tampering involved, per Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, via RealGM.
Harden has been linked as a possible sign-and-trade candidate for available 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons after the season, and Haynes suggested such a deal could indeed happen.
Harden, of course, is close with 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey from their days together with the Rockets. Harden is also said to have a friendship with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, which is where the issues arise, as far as rival teams are concerned, per Haynes.
“Rival front offices believe that the two have been talking about Harden joining Philadelphia as a free agent this offseason,” RealGM wrote. “And those teams are prepared to ask the NBA to look into possible tampering and collusion on the part of Harden, Rubin and the 76ers.”
Harden is expected to test free agency over the summer. There is no sense that he is unhappy with the Nets — though reports are conflicting on that front.
As for a Simmons-Harden trade ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline, forget about it. This is more likely something the 76ers will pursue during the offseason. They won’t have the cap space to sign Harden outright, which is where the idea of sending Simmons to the Nets comes in.
“At the end of the day, it’s Harden all the way,” Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted a source as saying on the 76ers’ pursuit. “They want Harden whether they get him now, whether they get him on a forced sign-and-trade this summer.”
So it really might just boil down to if the Nets like the idea of Simmons playing alongside the likes of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. And they just might.
The 76ers and Simmons have both been hopeful of finding a trade since around late July. Simmons, 25, has yet to appear in a game this season.
While the Sixers could wait until the summer to find a deal, multiple reports have suggested they are engaged with a number of teams in exploring a move before the deadline.
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