James Harden wants a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers but won’t formally ask for one due to concerns about public reaction, sources say

Although Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden wants a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, he has resisted making that formal request for fear of the public backlash that would come from asking to leave a second franchise in consecutive seasons, the leagues said. sources to ESPN.

Harden is hopeful that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey will secure a trade for him before the trade deadline on Thursday at 3 p.m. ET, but Morey and Nets general manager Sean Marks, have not yet engaged in serious dialogue about a deal, the sources said.

There is still an expectation that the sides will communicate on Thursday and the possibility of a deal remains, but both teams weigh the risk-reward of a Harden deal, sources said.

A trade may hinge on Morey’s willingness to include assets, beyond exiled point guard Ben Simmons, needed to convince the Nets to part with Harden against the cost of creating the salary-cap space to sign Harden in free agency. summer. Philadelphia could also re-trade with the Nets in a sign-and-trade strategy in the offseason.

The Nets are also at risk: After trading key players and draft picks to acquire Harden from the Rockets a little over a year ago, they risk keeping a disgruntled player to attempt a championship run this season, and the specter of losing it for nothing this summer.

Harden has missed Brooklyn’s last three games with a hamstring injury, leading to speculation that he is sending a message about his waning desire to stay with the Nets. The team announced Wednesday that Harden will also miss Thursday’s game against the Washington Wizards.

The Sixers have largely withdrawn from trade-deadline deal options involving Simmons until they have clarity on their ability to include him in a deal for Harden, sources said.

Nets owners and management want to win a championship this season and believe they will have a renaissance once Kevin Durant returns after the All-Star break. Brooklyn is resigned to the possibility that Harden might want to leave, but he wants his best route to a title this season and is willing to treat Harden like the Toronto Raptors did with Kawhi Leonard in 2019: championship or bust.

The Nets (29-25) have lost nine straight and have dropped to No. 8 in the Eastern Conference standings. Brooklyn, however, is just three games behind division leader Philadelphia (32-22) and 1.5 games behind sixth-place Toronto (30-23), entering Thursday action.

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