REPORT: James Harden was Incredibly Close to Joining the Philadelphia 76ers Instead of Brooklyn Nets

Published 01/16/2021, 12:47 PM EST
James Harden attends Black Ops Basketball Run on September 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images)


The hype around James Harden joining the Brooklyn Nets still hasn’t settled down. Brooklyn are now a superteam with a ‘Big 3,’ but the scenario could’ve panned out differently if the Philadelphia 76ers had pushed for the move as well.

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In fact, the franchise thought they were getting Harden, but it ended up in disappointment. The Nets were ready to bring James Harden in at any cost.

They acquired him through a mega 4-team trade, and this speaks a lot about the quality the 2018 MVP brings to the court. But, as per recent revelation, it seems that the Sixers believed they were leading the race to sign Harden! 

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Philadelphia 76ers thought they completed the deal to acquire Harden

Well, this would’ve made things more interesting! Imagine Harden joining the 76ers instead of the Nets. Of course, Philly would have had to give up Ben Simmons, but a Harden-Joel Embiid combination would have been more enticing anyway. 

The Nets already have 2 superstars, and Harden just made them a tougher force to reckon with. But joining Philly would’ve been a different scenario completely.

According to ‘The Philadelphia Inquirer’s’ Keith Pompey, the Sixers thought they had finalized the deal to sign Harden, but things didn’t end up in their favor. 

“But the Sixers thought they had a deal for Harden done, according to sources. The team won’t come out and say it, but Morey pushed hard to reunite with the 2018 MVP.

“Simmons and Thybulle were even informed by their agents on Wednesday of an expected trade,” Pompey wrote in his report. 

Dec 15, 2020; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden leaves the court after a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Mandatory Credit: Mike Wyke/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Moreover, Pompey also hinted at why the deal between the Houston Rockets and the Sixers didn’t come through. Daryl Morey left his GM role in Houston and became Philly’s General Manager during the 2020 offseason. This might have forced Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to not deal Harden to the 76ers out of spite. 

Moreover, one of Pompey’s sources also informed that the Rockets never got back to the Sixers after hearing from the Nets about the possible 4-team trade. We all know what happened next. 

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Will James Harden fit into the Nets’ system?

The mega trade deal has reunited former teammates Kevin Durant and James Harden. They played alongside each other during their OKC days in the early 2010s, but a lot has changed since then. 

Moreover, the Harden-Durant combo now has to thrive alongside another superstar in Kyrie Irving, who’ll demand equal attention as the talented duo.

The ‘Big 3’ in Brooklyn has been getting all the attention ever since Harden’s trade, but can he uphold his superstar status alongside Durant and Irving? 

Dec 22, 2020; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Kent Bazemore (26) fights for a loose ball against Brooklyn Nets small forward Kevin Durant (7) and point guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

This has been a question that has been lingering on everyone’s minds, and 2016 NBA champion Channing Frye recently expressed what he thinks of the whole situation. 

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“He’s a willing passer, and I think that’s the biggest part of my emphasis. We joke around and there’s been issues with his conditioning, but at the end, James Harden is a hooper,” Frye said of Harden. 

Besides Channing Frye, there are a lot of people who are counting on James Harden to perform with the Nets. He will undoubtedly put up a show with his new teammates, but can they go all the way and win the championship?

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Arjun Athreya

2029 articles

Arjun Athreya is a senior writer at Essentially Sports and has been contributing since early 2020. Having developed an avid interest in sports at an early age, he pursued a Journalism degree and graduated from Madras Christian College. Arjun manages the Golf division and its content, and primarily covers news pertaining to the NBA as well.

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