Sixers Executive Daryl Morey Stressed The Team Is ‘Not Trading Ben Simmons’

After a period of relative tranquility after James Harden reported to training camp and appeared in a preseason game for the Houston Rockets, the rumor mill began churning again in earnest on Thursday evening. First, ESPN reported that the Rockets are “expanding trade discussions” for the star guard, even beyond the destinations (Brooklyn and Philadelphia) that Harden is thought to prefer.

From there, multiple reporters weighed in with insight that the Philadelphia 76ers could be at least willing to include superstar Ben Simmons in the discussions.

However, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey responded swiftly to those rumblings, telling Shams Charania of The Athletic that the team is “not trading Ben Simmons.”

Though next week’s start of the 2020-21 regular season could act as a soft deadline for negotiations, the Rockets do not have to move quickly, with Harden under contract for multiple seasons. To add to that, Harden did show up for camp and all indications are that he will take the court and (very likely) perform at a high level as he awaits the deal that he is reportedly seeking.

As for Philadelphia, the 76ers would potentially love to lure Harden away from Houston without giving up Simmons and, at least from a contractual perspective, the organization does have other ways to get that deal done. However, the Rockets should absolutely be asking for Simmons in return and, if Philadelphia is unwilling to include Simmons or Joel Embiid, it is entirely possible that Houston might hang up the phone before talks can escalate.

In some ways, it feels as if a deal could be on the way, if only because the chatter has been happening for a long time. Still, this on-record denial from Morey is the latest road block, and the partnership between Harden and the Rockets may need to continue for a while.