Last week, it was Marc Stein. This week, it’s Shams …

Last week, it was Marc Stein. This week, it’s Shams Charania and his colleague at The Athletic, Sam Amick, going over the same ground. Previously, Brian Windhorst of ESPN and Keith Pompey, 76ers beat writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer have also done the speculation thing as well. However, one league source told NetsDaily the report is “spin … craziness.”

More on James Harden Trade?

According to sources, Harden and his camp have maintained a close relationship with Morey. In addition, Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin is also tight with Harden and his friends. Harden’s close friend and rapper Lil Baby was even on hand when Rubin, Meek Mill and the Sixers hosted 25 youths from the Philadelphia area before their Dec. 15 game against the Miami Heat. Together, the group provided a Wells Fargo Center experience through the REFORM Alliance for young people who have been adversely affected by criminal justice.
Then there's the other side of the Harden discussion, which is whether the Sixers would be wise to trade for him and build the franchise around him and Embiid in the first place. According to sources who spoke to PhillyVoice on Monday morning, the Sixers are certainly interested in acquiring a player like Harden or even Harden specifically, but they do not view this as a Harden-or-bust situation. Were that opportunity to present itself, the Sixers would likely move whatever is required (save for Joel Embiid) to make it happen, sources say. But executive Daryl Morey will entertain any opportunities to significantly impact their title odds, whether that's at this deadline or in a move made in the offseason.
The 76ers continue to engage in trade talks around Simmons, who requested a trade and informed the franchise in October that he is not mentally ready to play again for the franchise and needs professional help for his mental health. But multiple sources, including people with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking and also from rival teams involved on the Simmons front, tell The Athletic that the 76ers are believed to prefer to wait in order to pursue Harden or another superstar in the offseason and thus want to save Simmons for that potential sign-and-trade rather than take what’s available on the current market.
Yet a year later, sources say Morey still has some optimism that he can finally find a way to bring Harden his way. More specifically, he believes that the nine-time All-Star and 2018 MVP sees the Sixers’ situation in a positive light. And while it may be counterintuitive, Embiid’s MVP-caliber play this season has inspired more patience among Sixers officials to make the right deal than it has pressure to get something done by the deadline.
Sources say Morey has full support of ownership to take this situation beyond this deadline and into the summer, with the internal belief that they simply must prioritize Embiid’s prime over the course of next several years rather than act too quickly because of this season’s stakes. Embiid is signed through the 2025-2026 season and has a player option worth $54 million in 2026-27.
Marc Stein on Ben Simmons: When I talk to executives with other teams, it just comes up so much so often, that these rival executives think that Daryl’s real goal here is to wait till the offseason and try to do a sign and trade for James Harden. Now, that would be super complicated, because it would hard cap the Sixers and they would definitely have to shed much more salary. Much more salary than just Ben here. So the mathematics of a Harden sign and trade, even if Harden is like ‘I want to go to Philly’, even if that happened, that would be difficult.
A person close to the Sixers said the team would want a more high-profile player than Grant in exchange for Simmons. The source added that the team hasn’t spoken to the Pistons lately. But multiple sources said the Sixers have, and that the discussions were centered around Grant. The Athletic reported Thursday the Sixers have a list of 30 players they’d accept in a Simmons trade. However, several members of the front office are keen on the idea of keeping Simmons this season and pursuing Harden from the Brooklyn Nets for a sign and trade, according to multiple sources.

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A source briefed on Heat discussions with Houston said Miami wasn’t willing to give up Herro and Robinson and Achiuwa all together. That, combined with Miami’s lack of draft assets in the next three years, torpedoed those talks.

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Brian Windhorst: In speaking to individuals with knowledge, Ben Simmons was prepared to be traded today. I don't know if I can say expected to be traded but was prepared to be traded, was ready to be traded. They never told him he was going to be traded.
The Brooklyn Nets have acquired James Harden from the Houston Rockets, which is something Kevin Durant has pushed for "This was something Kevin Durant very much wanted," said Adrian Wojnarowski. "He and Harden started talking about this months ago."
Harden also leaves Texas, one of nine states without an income tax on wages, for New York, one of the nation’s highest taxing states. While Harden will continue to be owed the same amount of money over the next three years, his pay will be subject to an approximately 12.7% tax rate between New York State and New York City. In November, we ran the numbers on a Harden trade to the Nets. The short of it: He’ll pay an additional $13.6 million in taxes over the next three years. The following chart, which incorporates jock taxes and assumes that Harden will be a resident of New York City, breaks down the numbers:
The Nets and 76ers were the two teams battling it out for Harden’s services at the end of the race, but Philly felt the Rockets were using them as leverage to extract as many assets from the Nets, Harden’s preferred destination, a league source told HoopsHype.
The “Culture Nets” are now the “Talent and Ego Nets.” Sure, it's a new regime, but Brooklyn is once again going all-in. And it's really championship or bust in the Durant-Irving-Harden Era. Similarly, in many ways, to the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce blockbuster in 2013. “They did it again,” the source said. “But these guys are younger and have a lot more gas in the tank. It's a big deal. It's a heckuva deal. Granted, you've got all the picks involved and a rookie coach.”
If you answered "yes" to that question, such a deal likely would have required the Celtics to part ways with rising star Jaylen Brown. Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated said on Wednesday's Early Edition that was a move Ainge was not interested in making. "Under no circumstances if you're Boston do you make any kind of offer that includes Jaylen Brown. That was really the Celtics' mindset for the last couple of months. There was no significant interest in a deal that involved Jaylen Brown. The Celtics are simply operating on a completely different timetable than the Brooklyn Nets. Their stars are Kevin Durant at 32 [years old] and Kyrie Irving at 29. You've got the Celtics with [Marcus] Smart, [Jayson] Tatum, Brown, a whole bunch of younger guys they're trying to develop in their mid to early 20s.
"Trades happened today and I couldn't allow myself to indulge in that knowing that we had a game that we had to play tonight." LeBron James remained locked in on the Lakers' mission after the James Harden trade. Face with look of triumph (via @RyanWardLA )

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James Harden is leaving the Rockets but his new restaurant is still in play in Houston. Wednesday afternoon brought news that Harden will be treaded to the Brooklyn Nets, leaving some to wonder if his much-anticipated restaurant, Thirteen, opening soon in Midtown, would be affected. The restaurant, according to spokeswoman Sherrie Handrinos, is planning a full-court press on the Houston dining scene.
Wasserman: Thrilled to welcome @James Harden to Wasserman. Can’t wait to see you hit the court in Brooklyn #TeamWass

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Joe Vardon: In the meantime, Daryl Morey tried to trade Ben Simmons off the Sixers. I’m told Ben is ‘fine’ after today’s events, but we will all have to monitor how this goes there with him and Joel and Daryl and Doc and the whole bit
Bobby Marks: With the trade, Houston will go under the luxury tax by $3.65M and hard cap by $9.95M. Before the deal is consummated, Houston will need to waive a player (had 14 on the roster before the deal and now sending out 1 and taking back 3).
Shams Charania: The Nets are trading for All-NBA star James Harden and sending four first-round picks and four draft swaps to the Rockets, sources tell @The Athletic @Stadium. Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen are being moved -- could be another team or two involved.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources with @Ramona Shelburne: Brooklyn sends three unprotected first-round picks -- 2022, 2024 and 2026 in deal -- plus pick swaps in 2021, 2023, 2025 and 2027. The Rockets get Cleveland 2022 first-round pick via the Bucks.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Brooklyn has granted James Harden's wish to be reunited with Kevin Durant with the Nets. Huge haul for the Rockets, but the Nets were determined to get another All-NBA player in his prime -- and get him with Harden. KD, Harden ... and Kyrie Irving.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Reporting with @RamonaShelburne: Brooklyn is acquiring Houston’s James Harden in a blockbuster deal, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: Breaking: The Houston Rockets are trading James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
Sam Amick: DeMarcus Cousins: "My interest is to play with John Wall, to be brutally honest. ...The (Harden) disrespect started way before. This isn't something that, you know, all of a sudden started last night. ...It's completely unfair to the rest of the guys in the locker room."
Marc Stein: Houston is increasingly determined to complete a James Harden trade as soon as today, league sources say, and has chased the promising Maxey in addition to Simmons Philly is known to covet Houston's PJ Tucker in addition to Harden while the Nets have also remained in pursuit
Salman Ali: Stephen Silas: "We control what we can. We concentrate on beating San Antonio and what it's going to take to beat San Antonio and that's all we can control at this point."
The Nets have prepared a package to Houston for Harden featuring all of their four future first-round picks and three future pick swaps, multiple sources said. This would place significant pressure on the team to win immediately and the potential partnership between two former star teammates in Harden and Kevin Durant. Nets general manager Sean Marks and his front office have built an impactful culture around their players, and have been able to keep strong future flexibility in the process. For the Nets, there could be hesitation to mortgage future assets with this type of ferocity. Brooklyn does not owe any extra firsts or have any owed to it, so it has four firsts and three swaps available.
The Rockets have pursued a 76ers package centered on All-NBA star Ben Simmons, sources said. Boston and Toronto have also expressed interest at various points. Simmons, a two-time All-Star, has continued to grow his game on the defensive end of the floor. As far as star talent, the Rockets would be able to acquire a player in Simmons whose talent level may not be available elsewhere.
Nick Wright: News: There has been legitimate movement on the Harden front. Brooklyn is prepared to offer *anyone* that Houston wants aside from Durant for Harden, as well as 3 1sts & swaps. BK willing to make the same bet it once made on KG & Pierce, but on Harden.
Adam Zagoria: Per @Stephen A. Smith on @FirstTake, the Rockets are "strongly considering" letting James Harden "stay home" and sit out "until they're able to move him." "He wants to to go to Philly, that would be his No. 1 preference," Smith said, with Brooklyn as his No. 2 option.
Nick Wright: If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks. Question for Joe Tsai is is he willing to make a similar bet Prokhorov made shortly after he bought the team: Mortgaging all future assets & future abilities to improve the team for a chance to win the title right now, especially when the Harden-Kyrie fit is questionable at best.
Harden and the Rockets have been a divorce waiting to happen for some time now, and that couldn’t be made clearer now. After Sunday night’s game, a 120-102 blowout loss to Los Angeles, Harden’s desires for a trade were reinforced, The Athletic understands. Privately, Harden knows the team as currently constructed can’t defeat the Lakers in a seven-game series, a reality that only further cements desires for a move elsewhere, sources said. With the Lakers being the reigning champions and the standard for a contender right now, Harden wants to maximize the window he still has, a source said. Brooklyn still remains atop his wish list, sources said, though other contenders still remain.
Storyline: James Harden Trade?
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