James Harden adds to his list of trade targets that included Sixers

Simmons Harden 76ers
The Nets came away with James Harden rather than the Sixers having to trade Ben Simmons and much more.
Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden added the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks to his list of preferred trade destinations, which originally included the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania on Thursday.

The eight-time All-Star is currently in Houston complying with the league’s coronavirus testing protocols after holding out of the start of Rockets training camp. He instead celebrated the 26th birthday of rapper Lil Baby in Atlanta and Las Vegas.

His communication with the Rockets has been inconsistent, especially when it comes to the front office, but he is expected to work out in front of team personnel soon, according to Charania.

Harden’s dissatisfaction stems from Houston’s apparent abandonment of contending for an NBA title. This offseason, they’ve parted ways with head coach Mike D’Antoni, general manager Daryl Morey — the new president of basketball operations in Philadelphia — and traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall.

With three years and over $130 million remaining on his current contract, Harden would call for a mammoth return from any possible trade suitor. He’s one of the most dangerous offensive threats in the game, leading the league in scoring in each of the last three seasons with an average of 33.7 points per game during that stretch.

Charania noted that the Rockets would only take Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving to part ways with Harden, further cementing that the 76ers would have to give up one of Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid to even pique Houston’s interest.

It’s highly unlikely that the Sixers would make that kind of decision to get Harden, as Charania noted:

“The 76ers want to view their two young All-Stars, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, under new head coach Doc Rivers — who has raved about both players and has privately made clear he wants the opportunity to have elevated success with both Simmons and Embiid — andcentered around president of basketball operations Dary Morey’s new acquisitions such as veteran shooters Danny Green and Seth Curry and key reserve center Dwight Howard.”

A version of this article first appeared on AMNY.com