NBA rumors: Daryl Morey's past with Houston may have blocked Sixers from James Harden trade

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Adam Hermann
·2 min read
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Morey may have inadvertently blocked Harden-Sixers trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

In the hours before James Harden was traded to the Nets on Wednesday, buzz was swirling among the NBA's most plugged-in reporters linking the Sixers to Harden. Everything seemed, barring a sharp left turn, to point towards Harden landing in Philly.

And then he wound up in Brooklyn.

So what went wrong?

A report from Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes might be able to shed some light on the breakdown in trade talks.

Haynes and Vincent Goodwill broke down the deal on a new episode of the Posted Up podcast on Wednesday night, in which the two chatted about the trade from all angles, and Haynes offered up this interesting nugget about the Sixers failing to land Harden: 

"I think a lot of us though Philly was the frontrunner, but after that, I was told that Tilman Fertitta, the Houston Rockets' owner, he was just adamant that they not make a deal with Philly, obviously with Daryl Morey being the GM over there now."

That's pretty spicy! And it's also fair to question whether this is 100% true. 

There was likely some hesitation from Fertitta's side to make a deal with a man who said he was leaving the Rockets to spend time with his family, and then was hired by the Sixers less than a week later. This thought was brought up numerous times in the "Harden to Philly?" rumblings over the past couple months.

But in the end, if Fertitta had received a better offer from the Sixers than from the Nets, I think Harden would be in Philly and Ben Simmons would be a Rocket. 

Perhaps Fertitta didn't appreciate Morey refusing to toss in Tyrese Maxey, and Fertitta didn't want to admit he couldn't negotiate his way into a monster return from the Sixers. 

All reports indicate that Simmons was obviously on the table, and despite acquiring Victor Oladipo and a haul of draft picks, Fertitta could've landed a fascinating young All-Star and face of the franchise in Simmons, plus a number of draft picks from the Sixers. Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen ended up elsewhere, not in Houston. Even without Maxey, the Sixers offer feels better in the end for Houston, on paper. 

So maybe Fertitta is using his rocky relationship with Morey to give himself cover for taking a slightly lesser offer.

Whatever the truth is, some Sixers fans will lament not making the trade, and some will like it. We'll see if the existing Sixers core is enough to push for an NBA Finals appearance.