The Ben Simmons saga has officially come to an end in Philadelphia, where he would have to go up I-95 north for his next destination. There were reports leading up to the NBA trade deadline today that Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden wanted out. Reportedly, Kevin Durant wanted Harden to stay so that he, Harden, and Kyrie Irving could make a run at the NBA title. After some back-and-forth, the Brooklyn big three is no more–or at least that version.
According to ESPN, The Nets and 76ers have traded star players in a late NBA deadline blockbuster.
Harden is on the move via trade for the second time in just over a year — this time to Philadelphia, which will send Simmons, guard Seth Curry, center Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks to Brooklyn, sources tell Wojnarowski.
The Sixers also acquired veteran forward Paul Millsap in the deal, according to Wojnarowski.
The Nets will receive the Sixers’ 2022 first-round pick unprotected with a right to defer until 2023 and a 2027 first-round pick protected from draft slots 1-to-8, sources tell Wojnarowski. The 2027 pick would roll over to 2028 protected Nos. 1-to-8 again., and turns into two seconds and $2 million in 2029, according to Wojnarowski.
For the Brooklyn Nets, it will be a case of what could have been. The trio of Harden, Irving, and Durant only play 16 games together in total. All those championship aspirations only lasted a year and a half. With Harden possibly becoming a free agent during the summer, the Nets probably felt some urgency getting a deal done.
There’s still the question of Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who can only play during away games this season. The Nets are essentially in the same spot with Simmons–who hasn’t played all season. It would take him some time to get up and running with the team.
With Simmons, you get a three-time all-star, defensive player of the year–type player, and passer. A shooter like Seth Curry should alleviate some issues, especially with Joe Harris out. Andre Drummond can provide some rebounding help and score in the frontcourt. Not to mention two first-round picks for the future that the Nets could either keep or flip for other players. However, this all comes down to Ben Simmons–he hasn’t played since the infamous Atlanta Hawks playoff game where he passed on a layup. You have KD coming off an injury and Kyrie only playing some of the games. It’s going to take additional time for this lineup to gel.
If you’re the Sixers, you kept young talents in Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey and paired Joel Embiid, who’s having an MVP-type year, with the best guard he’s played with since he’s been with the team. It’s reported that Harden will opt-in his player option for 2022-23– so he and Embiid will have another year to get things right. James Harden has been with other stars before in Oklahoma City, Houston, and now, his short-lived Brooklyn stint. Time will tell if the Embiid-Harden partnership will work up–but the upside is an NBA title.
One date to keep an eye on is March 10th–that’s when the Nets play the Sixers in Philadephia. Rest assured, Philly fans are going to boo Simmons out of the Wells Fargo Arena if he decides to suit up.