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Still another James Harden-to-Philly rumor, this one from Chris Haynes ... and what about tampering?

Denver Nuggets v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

It’s hard to recall another time where they was so much speculation, so much smoke, about a Nets trade ... unless of course you go back a year to the just before the James Harden trade.

Despite statements on the record from Harden disclaiming the wave of rumors about an off-season move to Philadelphia, despite the Adrian Wojnarowski report that the Nets have not made nor will entertain calls for Harden at the deadline — and have confidence their superstar wants to stay, another writer, Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports said on Spotify that Harden has interest in Philadelphia, spurred by his relationship not just with GM Daryl Morey but with minority owner Michael Rubin. Haynes also suggested that there is a growing belief among NBA owners that Philly has opened itself to possible tampering charges.

Here’s Haynes basic point re Harden and Philly.... per Hoopshype.

“There’s another player we’re going to add to this dynamic. Michael Rubin. For those who don’t know, the Sixers co-owner is very, very, very good friends with James Harden. And I’ve been talking to a rival owner, talking to rival front office executives, who believe that there can be some talk going on now between both sides.”

Rubin is also the driving force behind Fanatics, the company what wants to be a one-stop shop for NBA fans whether they’re interested in buying a jersey or placing a bet. He needs a good relationship with NBA owners to carry out those plans. Rubin, like Clara Wu Tsai, has also been a driving force in social justice reform, helping bank roll the Meek Mill-inspired Reform Alliance as has the Joe and Clara Wu Tsai Foundation..

All the rumors from Brian Windhorst to Shams Charania to Marc Stein to Keith Pompey has raised the prospect of possible collusion, aka tampering, in the 76ers pursuit of Harden, reports Haynes.

Some front office executives are prepared to… when the time comes, if a deal does look like is about to transpire where there could be some potential sign-and-trade in the offseason… They’re prepared to get the league involved on a potential collusion case dating back to what they what they believe could be going on right now, you know as to why we’re probably hearing a lot of Philadelphia, James Harden talk...

“So, that’s something to keep an eye on. If it does get to the point where it looks like James Harden will be headed to Philly, I was told there will be complaints issued to the league on trying to investigate, to see if there was any collusion, any talks of recruitment going on right now, which is illegal and against the CBA.”

The league does not investigate tampering without a complaint from a team. The complaints in this area are often anonymous, as it was when the NBA investigated the Nets signing of Andrei Kirilenko in 2013. The NBA cleared the Nets in that probe.

Meanwhile, Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated also reports in a podcast with Chris Mannix, that Rubin could play a role in the 76ers pursuit of Harden.

Like it may also be coming from there, but I’ve heard this. I’m sure you have to, like it’s other people around the league who are not part of Brooklyn’s, uh, franchise or part of the Sixers, who have said they’re hearing that James Harden is looking around wondering what his other options may be and eyeing Philly because of the obvious. Relationship with Daryl Morey, trust there from other years in Houston together.

Harden’s also tight with Michael Rubin, one of the Sixers owners, no mystery about this stuff, but I was hearing an entire case being made for why Harden might go to Philly this summer and it’d have to be via sign and trade of course, from an executive who is not with either of these franchises.

One NBA analyst, however, thinks it’s time to “pump the brakes, let this play out a little bit” on the Harden speculation. ESPN’s Bobby Marks, in a YouTube video, lays out the details of a possible Harden trade and thinks the degree of difficulty in any such deal would be quite high, citing the lack of teams with enough cap space to facilitate what would have to be a multi-team sign-and-trade. He also noted the Nets leverage.

If you are James Harden and there’s a lot of what if’s and a lot of season to go but I’m just trying to end some of the speculation that Harden can become a free agent and can just go anywhere. That’s not the case. The Nets still have a ton of leverage. They can have him opt in. work out a trade, wherever he wants to go. He can certainly opt in and extend in Brooklyn if he feels this team can still win a championship — and I do.

Marks also suggested that Harden may not be worth a big extension, one that would pay him $61 million in the third and final year of a max extension in 2025-26. So at the end of the day, more rumors, more speculation and ultimately less clarity.