If the Philadelphia 76ers find a way to acquire James Harden this offseason, an investigation from the NBA might not be all that far behind.
A report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports revealed that “teams around the NBA would consider asking the league to investigate a James Harden to 76ers deal, should the Brooklyn Nets superstar land in Philadelphia.” There is a belief there is some tampering involved between the two parties.
Harden’s future with the Nets is up in the air with a player option awaiting for the 2022-23 season. Should he opt out of that option, he’ll hit free agency — which is a market that he’s expected to explore.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported last week that Harden might be unhappy in Brooklyn, ranging from the frustrations involving Kyrie Irving’s playing status due to his unwillingness to receive the COVID vaccination to his living situation. Harden shot down that report, however.
Still, the nine-time All-Star and 2018 MVP continues to be linked to the 76ers as a potential landing spot due to his existing relationship with Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey — the two were together in Houston with the Rockets — and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin.
“Some front-office executives believe talks are going on now between Harden and the 76ers on a potential offseason move,” Haynes wrote. “This could be considered tampering by the league.”
It is forbidden for teams to speak with pending free agents that play for other organizations.
In an ideal world for the 76ers, they’d be able to pull off a sign-and-trade with the Nets that would see Philadelphia finally offload disgruntled All-Star guard Ben Simmons. It remains unlikely that Morey will find a suitable trade partner to get Simmons out of town before the league’s Feb. 10 trade deadline as he maintains an astronomically high asking price.
Harden would certainly bring the kind of top-tier talent that Morey would be looking for while providing a formidable duo alongside Joel Embiid.