James Harden has emerged as a possible solution to the problem that currently exists between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.
Simmons has not suited up for the Sixers since last season. He maintains that he will not return to action until he is traded. Philly, meanwhile, refuses to deal him for anything other than an incredible package that the front office feels is worthy of the talent being sent out.
At the moment, only one team can really offer the 76ers what they’re looking for – but nothing has materialized on that front yet.
Harden may be the key.
According to NBA insider Marc Stein, Philly remains hopeful that Simmons could be utilized in a swap that’d make Harden a Sixer this coming offseason.
“Winning without Simmons certainly makes it easier for [Joel] Embiid to adopt that stance… Perhaps he has also been sold on a concept that executives with a growing number of rival teams say they see as Morey’s new preferred scenario: Keeping Simmons beyond the trade deadline to exhaust every last possibility for executing a complicated sign-and-trade in the offseason that finally brings James Harden to Philadelphia and routes Simmons to Brooklyn.”
It may sound far-fetched, the idea that Brooklyn would part with someone of Harden’s caliber, but there’s a reason it’s being talked about.
“Yet it must be noted that there is enough noise circulating leaguewide about Harden’s reported openness to relocation this summer — after he turned down a lucrative extension from the Nets in October — to give Morey the encouragement he needs to wait,” Stein added.
There are arguments for and against the prospect of Harden being okay with leaving the Nets. His relationship with Steve Nash has been well-documented. And he has been pretty brutally honest about the whole Kyrie Irving saga.
How Brooklyn would feel about the swap, similarly, is up in the air. Yes, you don’t want to trade Harden for an objectively inferior player in Simmons – but it’s also better than losing him for nothing.
Kliff Kingsbury is having a rough week. https://t.co/NonD3EtPmX
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 18, 2022
The next few months will be fascinating. If Simmons gets dealt before February’s NBA Trade Deadline, then obviously all this is moot. But if Philly retains him past that point, expect the Harden chatter to grow louder.