The Brooklyn Nets won the James Harden sweepstakes on Wednesday, landing the superstar guard in a trade with the Houston Rockets. That left the Philadelphia 76ers as the apparent runners-up in trade talks.
The Sixers and Nets were considered the two finalists for Harden, and the Nets’ massive draft-pick haul got the deal done for them. The Sixers were in talks up to the end, but they simply weren’t willing to meet Houston’s asking price.
According to John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Rockets asked the Sixers for Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, and draft picks. Philadelphia balked at that, and Harden was traded to the Nets. Reports indicated that the Sixers and Rockets were discussing guard Tyrese Maxey instead of Thybulle.
Simmons was probably the most talented player the Rockets could have landed in a theoretical Harden trade. That said, the Nets were willing and able to send four first-round picks to Houston as well as four more pick swaps. That may have been the difference, particularly if the Sixers weren’t willing to do that.