The 76ers became viewed as favorite to trade for James Harden.
Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports:
After that, I was told that Tilman Fertitta – the Houston Rockets owner – he was just adamant that they not make a deal with Philly, obviously with Daryl Morey being the GM over there now.
Morey and Fertitta had their differences while together in Houston. Morey resigned as Rockets general manager last fall ostensibly to spend more time with his family. But – as Fertitta predicted – Morey landed with Philadelphia a short time later (for a big salary). Morey later got fined for tampering with Harden, which often happens only if someone files a complaint.
This report raises the question: Did Houston general manager Rafael Stone actually prefer Victor Oladipo and the Nets picks that Houston got for Harden, or did Stone prefer the 76ers’ Ben Simmons-centered package? Fertitta has overruled his basketball-operations department before.
Felicia Stone, the wife of Rafael, appears to call the whole narrative false.
Sometimes, owners say they won’t trade with a certain team out of frustration or to increase leverage – or both. (Clever general managers can even feign that their team’s owner is predisposed a certain way to induce better offers.) Pelicans owner Gayle Benson reportedly maintained New Orleans wouldn’t trade Anthony Davis to the Lakers. Though she denied that, plenty of people believed the Pelicans wouldn’t trade Davis to the Lakers. Of course, the Pelicans ultimately traded Davis to the Lakers – for a massive return.
Even if he were truly against trading Harden to Philadelphia, Fertitta didn’t necessarily stick to that emotional mandate. The 76ers appeared to be genuinely in the mix for Harden in the end.
Of course, sometimes stubbornness prevails.
So, I wouldn’t rule out Fertitta absolutely refusing to trade Harden to Morey and Philadelphia. But I wouldn’t blindly trust it, either. It’s just too likely that this was bluster in the first place or that Fertitta’s stance changed.