When James Harden demanded a trade from the Houston Rockets, the Philadelphia 76ers immediately emerged as one of the heavy favorites to land the All-Star shooting guard. With Daryl Morey serving as the team's president of basketball operations, many believed that he would go all-in to bring "The Beard" to the City of Brotherly Love. Before he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, rumors were circulating that the Sixers and the Rockets were in a serious negotiation regarding a potential blockbuster deal involving Harden.
Unfortunately, the deal failed to materialize, as Harden ended up being sent to Brooklyn in a four-team megadeal involving the Nets, Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Indiana Pacers. In a recent article, Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer shared some interesting details about the Sixers' failed attempt to acquire "The Beard." O'Connor revealed that Philadelphia had already expressed willingness in sending Ben Simmons to Houston in exchange for Harden, but the Rockets were also demanding the inclusion of Tyrese Maxey and three future first-round picks in the trade package.
"The Sixers missed out on Harden. There's no other way around it. Harden would have given them what they lack in a superstar perimeter shot-creator. But the price was undeniably high. League sources say the Rockets demanded Ben Simmons, Tyrese Maxey, and three first-round picks from the Sixers in return for Harden. You can't blame Morey for refusing to go all in when there's long-term risk in adding a 31-year-old who has only two guaranteed seasons left on his deal. There also could be other options available eventually from losing teams, such as Washington's Bradley Beal or Chicago's Zach LaVine."
Harden would have been an incredible addition to the Sixers. His arrival in Philadelphia would have brought significant improvement to their performance on the offensive end of the floor, giving them a very reliable scoring option, a great playmaker, and an elite three-point shooter. Giving Joel Embiid a new superstar running mate who is a legitimate threat from beyond the arc could have helped the Sixers maximize his full potential on their court and enable him to focus more on punishing opponents under the basket.
The pairing of Embiid and Harden could have given Philadelphia their own version of the Shaquille O'Neal-Kobe Bryant duo and multiple NBA championship titles. As of now, only time will tell if they made the right decision to refuse to pay the Rockets' asking price for Harden. If they once again fail to win a championship, there's a strong possibility that they will finally consider breaking up their young superstar duo of Simmons and Embiid in the 2021 offseason.