How Simmons was dragged into middle of frantic 24-hour trade storm over ‘disrespectful’ star
While the Nets had been always in the running for Harden’s services, the Philadelphia 76ers were widely tipped as the favourites with Ben Simmons being a big part of Houston’s plans for a possible trade.
It did not end up happening but how did it get to the point where Simmons was at the centre and what does it mean for the Sixers?
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Big names deliver daggers in the NBA1:37
WHERE DID IT ALL START?
It was hardly breaking news that Harden wants out of the Rockets but until yesterday, he had never been so public on the issue.
Then, after Houston’s 117-100 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden made a stunning declaration.
“I love this city,” Harden said. “I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy, it’s something that I don’t think can be fixed. So, yeah. Thanks.”
The situation had clearly become untenable with Harden not going to training the next day.
Coach Stephen Silas admitted his absence from training was in the best interests of both the team and Harden.
Teammates were clearly angry with Harden’s comments but DeMarcus Cousins also made it obvious tensions had been lingering for a while.
“The disrespect started way before any interview,” Cousins told reporters on Thursday.
“Just the approach to training camp, showing up the way he did, the antics off the court, I mean the disrespect started way before. So this isn’t something all of a sudden happened last night.”
BROOKLYN EYE SIMMONS... SIXERS STAND FIRM
Naturally, the next question that started being asked was whether this meant a trade was finally about to happen.
New York Times’ Marc Stein then revealed it could happen as soon as today and involve Sixers star Simmons.
“The Rockets are pursuing a trade package from the 76ers that would be headlined by Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, league sources say,” he tweeted.
“Houston is increasingly determined to complete a James Harden trade as soon as today, league sources say, and has chased the promising Maxey in addition to Simmons. Philly is known to covet Houston’s PJ Tucker in addition to Harden while the Nets have also remained in pursuit.”
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Houston is increasingly determined to complete a James Harden trade as soon as today, league sources say, and has chased the promising Maxey in addition to Simmons
Philly is known to covet Houston's PJ Tucker in addition to Harden while the Nets have also remained in pursuit— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 13, 2021
Simmons had been linked to a trade swap with Harden prior but the Sixers rubbished those claims, insisting he is an important part of their future.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the First Take that the ball is in Philly’s court but they passed it right back.
“The bottom line is, James Harden wants out, he wants out by any means necessary,” he said.
“He wants to go to Philly for what I’m being told, even more so than Brooklyn now obviously Daryl Morey would have something to do with that.”
Any chance of Philadelphia trading for Harden had to include Simmons but it appears that they were not willing to budge in a clear sign of their confidence in the Aussie.
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WHAT DOES THE DEAL WITH THE NETS LOOK LIKE?
The Brooklyn Nets were the other obvious option available.
If Philadelphia were not willing to offer up Simmons, the Nets had to offer plenty given Houston were reportedly after a franchise player.
So, what they could offer per reports from The Athletic’s Shams Charania is all four first-round picks and all first-round pick swaps, all being unprotected.
It is also involved moving on Caris LeVert to the Pacers and Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to the Cavaliers.
In return the Rockets received Victor Oladipo and Dante Exum.
Kyrie Irving was linked to part of a potential trade earlier this morning but that did not eventuate.
FS1’s Nick Wright at the time reported that “legitimate movement on the Harden front”, tweeting that the Nets are open trading anyone besides Kevin Durant.
“If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks.”
Sources: Full current trade:
Rockets: Victor Oladipo, Dante Exum, Rodions Kurucs, 3 BKN first-rounders (22, 24, 26), 1 MIL first (22, unprotected), 4 BKN 1st round swaps (21, 23, 25, 27)
Nets: James Harden
Pacers: Caris LeVert, 2nd-rounder
Cavs: Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 13, 2021