After weeks of speculation and rumor, the James Harden for Ben Simmons trade is now official.
An hour before the 3 p.m. deadline, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Harden and Paul Millsap were headed to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks.
“Brooklyn was ready to move off of James Harden. It was clear he didn’t want to be there anymore. They knew that. They got enough back in their minds to try to put a team on the floor this year and then beyond that can still compete for a championship,” said WOJ.
"Harden has essentially forced his way out of a second team in consecutive years. … He's been paired with a lot of stars in this league and he gets a new one: Joel Embiid."
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 10, 2022
Former Houston and current Sixers’ GM Daryl Morey has been trying to get Harden to Philadelphia since he arrived last season.
Rumors of a Harden for Simmons trade before the 2020-21 tip-off were the start of Simmons’ downfall with the Sixers, which reached the point of no return during last year’s playoffs.
Harden, who had joined Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving last season to form Brooklyn’s first Big Three, had grown sour on the club, which was expected to contend for the title last and this season.
Consequently, the Nets are 29-25 and losers of their last nine games.
Along with Simmons, Brooklyn will also get 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,” per 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.”
The trade presumably ends Simmons’ season-long holdout.
The 25-year-old has been practicing at the Sixers’ training facility despite not playing in any games for Philly and racking up $19 million in fines.
The addition of Simmons, Curry, and Drummond should have an immediate impact on the struggling Nets, while the viability of a Harden-Joel Embiid combination will play out on the hardwood.