NBA executives reportedly are prepared to ask the league to look into potential collusion between James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Brooklyn Nets star has been rumored to be interested in joining Philly this coming offseason.
“Some front-office executives are prepared to … when the time comes, if a deal does look like [it’s] about to transpire where there could be some potential sign-and-trade in the offseason,” NBA insider Chris Haynes said. “… They’re prepared to get the league involved on a potential collusion case dating back to what they believe could be going on right now—you know, as to why we’re probably hearing a lot of Philadelphia, James Harden talk. I was told there will be complaints issued to the league [to] try to investigate to see if there was any collusion.”
According to Haynes, there are people in the NBA that are concerned about the relationship between Harden and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin.
“There’s another player we’re going to add to this dynamic: Michael Rubin,” Haynes said. “For those who don’t know, the Sixers co-owner is very, very, very good friends with James Harden. And I’ve been talking to a rival owner, talking to rival front-office executives, who believe that there can be some talk going on now between both sides.”
The Sixers have struggled to find a trade partner for star guard Ben Simmons, but Harden’s potential departure from Brooklyn could give Philly a perfect partner to complete a sign-and-trade with, perhaps sending Simmons to Brooklyn.
Harden has a player option on his contract for the 2022-23 season, but he can opt out and become a free agent following the 2021-22 campaign.
Philadelphia has pursued Harden in the past, and it appears the team still believes he is a target to pair alongside star big man Joel Embiid.
This season, Harden is averaging 23.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 10.1 assists per game while shooting 42.0 percent from the field and 33.7 percent from beyond the arc. His efficiency hasn’t been very impressive this season.
However, the Sixers could use Harden to fill a major hole on their roster with Simmons refusing to play for the organization. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the NBA reacts if a Harden-Simmons deal does eventually go down.