PHILADELPHIA 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is apparently out of the James Harden sweepstakes if the Houston Rockets demand one of Philadelphia’s young All-Stars in return.
Morey, per ESPN, is unwilling to engage his former employer, the Rockets, in talks surrounding Harden if the return package includes point guard Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid.
Simmons, 24, was the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft and was selected to the 2020 All-Star team along with Embiid, the third pick in the 2014 draft.
Morey inherited the home-grown stars when he joined the franchise with new head coach Doc Rivers. The key decision-makers, along with general manager Elton Brand, have all made public commitments to keeping Simmons and the 26-year-old Embiid.
Harden officially became a holdout in Houston on Monday, when first-year coach Stephen Silas confirmed the 31-year-old former MVP wasn’t planning to show for training camp workouts.
“He’s not here and he has a reason, but that’s on him to tell whoever what the reason is,” Silas said.
Silas was hired to replace Mike D’Antoni, who left before Morey and is now an assistant coach for the Brooklyn Nets under Steve Nash. Harden is also reportedly interested in reuniting with D’Antoni, plus old Oklahoma City Thunder running mate Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.
Harden first reportedly broached a trade with the Rockets at the end of the season, around the same time Morey’s exit became official.
Harden averaged 34.3 points per game, but his one-season partnership with Russell Westbrook was not a playoff success. The Rockets finished in fourth place in the Western Conference at 44-28, but lost in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Westbrook was traded to the Washington Wizards for John Wall earlier this month. — Reuters