Report: Daryl Morey targeted James Harden over Bradley Beal and De’Aaron Fox when Ben Simmons requested trade

Jason Simpson
3 Min Read
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The James Harden era is over for the Philadelphia 76ers, and while some feel like the organization negotiated a solid return in its deal with the Los Angeles Clippers, the Sixers are now back to the drawing board as they try to get Joel Embiid some help.

Today, 76ers executive Daryl Morey may have some regrets about trading for Harden in February of 2022 when the organization sent Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets.

That may be especially true given a new report from ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, who has revealed that Morey chose to target Harden over players like Bradley Beal and De’Aaron Fox when Simmons asked to be traded in the 2021 offseason.

“When disgruntled point guard Ben Simmons asked to be traded in the summer of 2021, Morey honed in on Harden as the trade target to play alongside Embiid — prioritizing him over players like Bradley Beal or De’Aaron Fox, league sources say,” wrote Shelburne.

Harden’s stint with Philadelphia didn’t exactly yield many positives. Although the Sixers made the playoffs during both of his seasons with them, they were eliminated in the second round each time, losing to the Miami Heat in 2022 and Boston Celtics in 2023.

Earlier this week, the Sixers and Clippers agreed to a trade sending Harden to L.A. (along with two other players) and a package of players to Philadelphia along with considerable draft capital.

The Sixers could use those draft assets in another trade as they look to give Embiid the help he needs. They’ve already been linked to some notable players, like Zach LaVine and O.G. Anunoby.

As currently assembled, Philadelphia likely doesn’t have enough talent to compete with teams like the Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference, so Morey may need to get busy in order to give his squad a chance this season.

Harden, meanwhile, will look to take the Clippers to new heights alongside Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. L.A. has one of the most loaded rosters in the NBA and certainly has its eyes on an NBA title this season.

Morey has never been afraid of taking risks, but his deal for Harden in 2022 certainly didn’t pay off. Perhaps his next gamble will yield a different outcome.

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