The Philadelphia 76ers have entertained the idea of including Ben Simmons in trade packages to the Houston Rockets for James Harden, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Charania's report was backed by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who added that both sides haven't come close to getting a deal done. 

It was reported earlier today that Simmons remained "off-limits" in trade talks for Harden since the team wanted to use the first few weeks of the season to evaluate whether he and Joel Embiid could finally mesh under new head coach Doc Rivers' system. 

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey issued a statement in response to the reports surrounding Simmons, telling Charania, "We are not trading Ben Simmons — he is an important part of our future."

Despite Morey's efforts to suppress rumors of trade talks involving Simmons, the Sixers may have been forced to move up that timetable as the Rockets have begun to cast a wider net for playoff-caliber teams interested in dealing for Harden, ESPN reports. Even though Harden has reportedly expressed an interest in joining either Philadelphia or the Brooklyn Nets, Houston is also motivated in getting the best deal possible for the 2018 NBA MVP, who still has three years, $133 million remaining on his current deal.

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