The trade speculation revolving around Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons and his holdout from play is the soap opera of the 2021-2022 NBA season.
Despite the rumors, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, both stars will likely remain at their respective destinations on Feb. 11th.
Harden has a $46.9 million player option in his contract heading into the 2022-2023 season. January reports about his frustrations with Brooklyn’s season led to speculation he may turn down the player option and test the waters of unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. Naturally, this opened up theories about a blockbuster deal involving Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and their two unhappy stars.
According to Fischer, those theories have no merit.
Neither the Philadelphia 76ers nor any team have even contacted the Nets front office regarding a Harden blockbuster, sources told B/R. There have been no negotiations, no offers, not even a framework discussed.
Some Brooklyn figures have openly mentioned their interest in swapping Harden for Simmons, sources said. Harden’s recent bout of hamstring tightness—which has kept him inactive for four of the Nets’ last six games—has coincided with reports of his looming offseason plans and caught the attention of Brooklyn personnel and players alike. Nash added Sunday that an MRI showed nothing serious and classified Harden as “day-to-day.”
Yet league sources confirmed the Nets have no plans to discuss Harden trade scenarios ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. ET buzzer. The team believes in its impressive title chances when its roster is at full strength.
A player of Harden’s All-Star talent is what Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey has reportedly been holding out for in a potential Simmons trade. The latest trade between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers “sparked hope” that Blazers star Damian Lillard — a player who fits that billing — may finally be available on the market.
Still, Fischer said every rumored trade partner in a possible Simmons’ deal remains a resounding “No” ahead of the trade deadline.
Any Simmons trade remains unlikely before the deadline. Philadelphia brass have long stood committed to waiting for a player of Harden or Bradley Beal’s caliber to become available, and each dynamic scorer has at least signaled the possibility he may depart his current situation in the near future. Portland’s salary-shedding trade with Los Angeles on Friday sparked hope among rival executives that Damian Lillard may once again consider a new home this summer as well.
No potential package from Atlanta or Sacramento, or any other team that has engaged Philadelphia since the offseason, has generated significant traction in trade conversations while the Sixers are holding out for someone on their wishlist.
Philadelphia will attempt to bolster a title run this season with marginal moves and any Simmons trade likely won’t be executed until the summer. In the meantime, the latest saga in the Simmons’ soap opera will then shift to speculation about a possible return.
The prospect of Simmons’ potential return will then take center stage after Thursday’s theatrics come to a close. Sixers brass have consistently messaged an optimism that Simmons may be willing to rejoin Philadelphia if a deal doesn’t materialize before the deadline.
Numerous figures affiliated with Simmons’ representation insist he’ll never dress for the franchise again, but there are people around Simmons who have recently pushed for the All-Star to retake the floor if he’s not dealt, sources said.
Simmons hasn’t suited up for an NBA game since the 76ers were eliminated from the 2021 NBA Playoffs.