By Harvey Hoffman

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that he Houston Rockets are increasingly expanding trade discussions on All-NBA guard James Harden beyond his preferred destinations of Brooklyn and Philly.

Several playoff-caliber teams in the Eastern and Western conferences have told ESPN that they are finding increased comfort in committing high-level trade assets in talks to acquire Harden. The Rockets have ongoing discussions on several fronts and have been communicating with Harden about those scenarios, sources said.

Several teams told ESPN that they are feeling less inhibited about trading for Harden without an assurance that he would re-sign once he can become a free agent in two years.

While the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden, those talks have come nowhere close to a deal, sources said.

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The Nets are limited by the Rockets’ interest in their personnel and likely would need a third team to emerge in talks, sources said.

In response, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tells @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium: “We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future.” https://t.co/W6T7HQjjoP

— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 18, 2020