If the Philadelphia 76ers end up getting James Harden then Rockets fans will feel like an embittered ex. First, they pry your general manager in Daryl Morey, then your top head coaching candidate in Doc Rivers, and finally, just to really rub it in, your franchise player.
The bad blood would make for fantastic conversation but it would also mean the Rockets would probably end up with the best return of players. The Sixers could offer either Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid who are both young and highly productive All-NBA caliber players.
At this moment, the Sixers seem content to build around their two young franchise cornerstones but that could change in an instant. Daryl Morey knows that players of Harden’s quality are rarely available and if the season doesn’t get off to a rousing start he could look to inject a three-time scoring champ into the backcourt.
Ben Simmons remains the best available prospect that the Rockets could realistically receive for Harden. He is a two-way force whose offensive game has been hamstrung over the past few seasons by inexplicable roster construction.
Embiid is a fantastic player but his health will remain a serious concern as he has never once played a full season. The difference between the two is relatively inconsequential because both are franchise cornerstones.
If the Rockets prefer Embiid over Simmons it’s not a fault in judgment it’s just a difference in taste. If the Sixers are willing to wait for Harden then the Rockets should wait too.
The best offer in the Eastern Conference resides in the city of brotherly love. The Rockets will play this out until they absolutely know whether the Sixers are serious about making a move for Harden.