Although James Harden has his sights set on Philadelphia, Joel Embiid apparently had another acquisition in mind: Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
Inside reports from the Brooklyn Nets camp have indicated that there was a growing distance between Kevin Durant and James Harden for months on end, with Harden gradually withdrawing from the organization. With that context, it makes sense that Harden would seek greener pastures elsewhere, finding the ideal situation in the Philadelphia franchise looking to swap superstars.
But according to a new report from the Bill Simmons Podcast, at least one person in the Philadelphia camp was hoping for someone other than Harden. Integral 76ers big man Joel Embiid was looking to luck out in a Ben Simmons trade for Washington Wizards point guard Bradley Beal.
Simmons reported Thursday that Embiid “really wanted” Beal “and was pushing really hard for it.”
“Part of the reason the trade stuff took so long was because there was the Sixers side that wanted Harden—obviously Daryl [Morey], because Harden is his guy,” Simmons said at 42:00 in this podcast. “But Embiid really wanted Beal because he felt like he was a better fit and was pushing, pushing, pushing.”
Joel Embiid was hoping for Bradley Beal before James Harden trade
Considering the Morey connection and the respective situations in Philadelphia and Brooklyn, the Nets/Sixers trade appealed to the swapped superstars and frustrated franchises. However, various trade possibilities for Simmons have been floated around all season, with the Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers being a handful of the many teams reportedly interested in Simmons.
According to Morey himself, Harden wasn’t the only deal on the table—the Sixers nearly traded for someone else. On “The Rights to Ricky Sanchez” podcast, Morey mentioned the existence of “almost a very good option that we liked” that the front office “pretty heavily explored.”
“And then, for reasons that would reveal who I’m talking about, I can’t really say why it sort of shifted, but it shifted,” Morey said.
Could the mystery player have been Beal or Tyrese Haliburton? It remains uncertain, but if Embiid’s revelation indicates anything, perhaps Beal rumors leaked from the front office and energized the team.