Checkmate?

How Tilman Fertitta and Daryl Morey's relationship could impact James Harden

Could James Harden end up in Philly? Composite image by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday, the sports world inside Houston went ballistic after Daryl Morey signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers to become their new President of Basketball Operations. After Morey signed with the 76ers, Tilman Fertitta and Rockets new GM Rafael Stone decided on the Houston Rockets next head coach, which is Stephen Silas. Could Morey and Fertitta be playing chess?

It was reported that the 76ers' office was in contact with Morey after his departure from the Rockets. When leaving the Rockets, Fertitta told Tim MacMahon of ESPN that Morey wanted to go to the Eastern Conference. Now that Morey is with the 76ers, he could possibly be looking to trade for James Harden. Bringing Harden to the 76ers could open a better pathway to the NBA Finals.

Stephen A. Smith believes Harden is the key piece to pair with Joel Embiid for a Finals appearance. Morey has pulled off countless trades for the Rockets' organization so his negotiation skills are not in question.

"I'm Daryl Morey, the first thing I'm trying to do is get [James] Harden to become a [Philadelphia] 76er," as Smith told co-host Max Kellerman on ESPN's First Take. "Even if it means trading Ben Simmons."

Although 76er fans would get excited about Harden coming to Philly, Stone and Fertitta shut the idea down. As MacMahon reported that it would be a hard no from the Rockets' front office. Honestly, it's a wise decision that the Rockets hold on to Harden, as he has three more years left on his contract. MacMahon explained more of the reasoning on why the Rockets are cashing in on Harden's prime on Adrian Wojnarowski's podcast.

"What I can say is right now the Rockets are 100 percent committed to cash in on [James] Harden's prime," as MacMahon told Woj on his podcast. "They consider him the best player in the league."

Keeping an eye on Fertitta and Morey's relationship is critical because of their past rapport. Fertitta did mention to MacMahon that they will keep in touch when it comes to strategizing towards the Finals. So it won't come as a surprise if a trade happens between the Rockets and 76ers at a later time.

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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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