What’s up, Peeps?

Let’s make this the start of a solid weekend. I know a lot of people are elated about this being holiday season. I’m elated that 2021 if officially two weeks away. This was definitely a trying time with this pandemic.

But, hey, at least you’ll get to watch the 76ers play the Indiana Pacers in a preseason game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing what they’ll be able to go in their final tune-up for the season.

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— Keith Pompey (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Just another part of the James Harden-Sixers saga

Was Daryl Morey’s response damage control?

One could argue that. Others will say the 76ers president of basketball operation is just trying to set the record straight.

The problem is that there are multiple reports out about the Sixers having dialogue with the Houston Rockets about possibly acquiring James Harden in a trade. The NBA universe went abuzz with word that Ben Simmons has been made available in a possible trade for Harden.

A little over an hour later, Morey told The Athletic, “We are not trading Ben Simmons. He is an important part of our future.”

Now, the Sixers’ discussions with the Rockets have not been fluid. And there was no indication that a deal is imminent. The Sixers want to see how Simmons and Joel Embiid co-exist with the shooting they’ve added around them. They also have plenty of time to make up their minds before the March 25 trade deadline.

Yet, Morey had to address the situation.

Not doing so could lead to the Sixers having a strained relationship with Simmons that could become irreparable.

But what happens if Houston comes back with an offer that’s hard to refuse? What does Morey say then?

To his credit, Morey has been publicly consistent that he wants to keep Simmons and Embiid together. But there have been plenty of times when players are said to be untradeable until they’re traded.

Starting Five

Raul Neto standing out in Washington

Raul Neto is making the most out of his stint with the Wizards. The former Sixer signed a one-year deal with Washington this offseason as the third-string point guard. But due to injuries, he was in the Wizards starting lineup in their first two preseason games.

How’d he do?

Let’s just say he’s turning heads.

Neto finished with 17 points on 4-for-6 shooting to go with 6 assists and a steal in the Wizards’ preseason-opening loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Then he finished with 7 points, 3 assists and 2 steal in Thursday night’s loss to the Pistons.

Important Dates

Tonight: Sixers at Indiana Pacers, 6 p.m., Bankers Life Fieldhouse, NBA Sports Philadelphia (preseason game)

Wednesday: Washington Wizards at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia (regular-season opener)

Dec. 26: Sixers at New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m., Madison Square Garden, NBC Sports Philadelphia, NBA-TV

Dec. 27: Sixers at Cleveland Cavaliers, 7:30 p.m., Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Dec. 29: Toronto Raptors at Sixers, 7 p.m., Wells Fargo Center, NBC Sports Philadelphia

Passing the Rock

Question: What is Doc’s first thoughts on preseason game No. 1? What did he like and what does the team need to improve on? — @Nicholas_gallo on Twitter

Answer: What’s up, Nicholas? Thanks for asking a question. In regards to Rivers, he was happy with the Sixers’ open-floor game, but wasn’t thrilled with their execution. He wants the Sixers to play with more pace. He wants them to understand that their towering size combined with paces creates force and makes them tough to guard in the open floor.