Instant analysis: Sixers fail to capitalize on James Harden sweepstakes

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 22: Houston Rockets Guard James Harden (13) reacts to a call during a NBA game between the Houston Rockets and the Los Angeles Clippers on November 22, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers didn’t win the Harden lottery, as Brooklyn Nets are finalizing a deal to acquire James Harden.

Following James Harden‘s postgame comments last night, it became increasingly clear that the superstar guard was going to be moved sometime in the near future. The Rockets opted to hold James Harden out of today’s practice, and both the Sixers and the Nets emerged as the leading candidates to land him in a trade.

Despite a hot couple of hours where the Sixers were repeatedly named the favorites to land the former MVP, it was the Brooklyn Nets who ultimately got to walk away with the prized scoring champ:

For the most part, it appeared like Daryl Morey was all in on the possibility of landing Harden this afternoon. Ben Simmons was reportedly being made available, and other young guards like Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle had their names floated out there as well. Morey seemed unwilling to part with Maxey and Simmons however, allowing the Nets to swoop in with a massive draft pick loaded trade package:

While there’s an argument to be made that parting ways with potentially Simmons, Maxey, and Thybulle, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that James Harden would’ve been an instant upgrade to a Sixers squad that appears ready to contend right now. Joel Embiid is currently operating at an MVP level (26.6 points per game), and Harden is coming off three consecutive seasons of averaging 30+.

Daryl Morey seemed insistent during the offseason that he didn’t want to separate Simmons and Embiid quite yet, and that still may be the longterm plan. However, Morey’s potential inclusion of Simmons in trade packages for Harden may have ultimately soured that relationship as well. A move later down the road for someone like Bradley Beal for example could still very well be in play.

At the moment, the Sixers keep their duo of Embiid and Simmons intact, while the Nets just created what’s arguably the best “big three” in all of basketball.

Mandatory Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire