The James Harden era with the Brooklyn Nets may be short-lived.
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, his name is appearing in many potential trades.
Many potential trades with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Sixers and Nets are talking about a Ben Simmons for James Harden trade and it is trending towards a deal happening, according to @WindhorstESPN
Nets are asking for Ben Simmons and two or three other players, according to @WindhorstESPN pic.twitter.com/ggFYgBbBCI
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) February 9, 2022
Just over a year after Harden was dealt from Houston to Brooklyn he is once again potentially on the move.
Philadelphia was the runner-up to the Harden sweepstakes last season and appears primed to reverse last year’s fortunes.
With a player of Harden’s caliber available this deadline, why is Philadelphia seemingly the only team connected to the star guard?
The Ben Simmons Factor
Ben Simmons is the biggest reason Harden is almost exclusively tied to the Sixers.
Acquiring a player of Harden’s caliber means you also must take on a sizable contract.
“The Beard” is currently making $44.3 million this year.
For trades involving teams operating over the salary cap, they can take back up to 125 percent of the sum of salaries they send out, plus $100,000.
With the Sixers being one of those teams over the cap, it means they will need to send out ~$33.5 million to get Harden back.
Simmons conveniently makes $33 million this year.
So, from a financial standpoint, there is not much maneuvering that needs to happen to make the money work.
This makes a trade much simpler to execute.
Instead of a team trying to cobble together multiple salaries to make salaries match up, the Sixers already have one contract that is close to the needed amount.
Other teams would certainly love to bring in Harden to their team.
But few teams have a player making ~$33 million annually they are ready to ship out.
Harden – Morey Connection
Another reason Harden is exclusively connected to Philly is Daryl Morey – the Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations.
Before joining the Sixers’ front office, Morey was the GM of the Houston Rockets.
It was Morey who orchestrated the trade to bring Harden to Houston back in 2012.
With Morey and his star pupil leading the Rockets, Houston went a combined 413-233 from 2012-2020.
Harden was an All-Star each season and was the MVP in 2017-18.
3rd pick in the '09 Draft.
2012 6th Man of the Year.
2018 @NBA MVP.
Happy Birthday to this year's Most Valuable Player, James Harden. #NBABDAY pic.twitter.com/kcENWhhI3k
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) August 26, 2018
Morey constructed a roster that played to Harden’s strengths and went against conventional basketball wisdom.
Houston played small to an extreme degree, surrounding the former MVP with four shooters and allowing him to make the right play.
And it often worked.
The Rockets consistently had one of the most efficient offenses in the league and if not for the Golden State Warriors dynasty, probably would have appeared in the NBA Finals.
Harden and Morey have remained close from their time in Houston and that is reportedly a factor in Harden being linked to Philly.
Between Simmons’ contract for matching and Morey’s relationship with Harden, the Sixers are seemingly the front runners in a one-man race.NEXT: NBA Insiders Differ On James Harden Rumors