One year after James Harden forced his way out of Houston, the 32-year-old All-Star got his way again as he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that brings Ben Simmons and Seth Curry to Brooklyn.
The deal was made just hours before the 2022 deadline and features Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons, Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks.
As part of the trade, Harden exercised his $47.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season. The ten-time All-Star is eligible to sign a four-year, $223 million extension with the 76ers in August.
Simmons, who spent most of the season away from the Sixers, will keep working with his therapist to get mentally prepared to play in Brooklyn, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The former All-Star and Rookie of the Year spoke with new teammate Kevin Durant and general manager Sean Marks and is ready to join the Nets and ramp up to play this season.
“We’ve got work to do to get him back to play, but it’s a great step in the right direction,” agent Rich Paul told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The trade gained steam on Wednesday night as it was reported both teams were working hard to find the right pieces to move.
Strong chemistry between Curry and All-Star starter Joel Embiid was not enough to keep the deal from happening. Curry is averaging 15 points per game and 4 assists and is shooting 40% from 3-point range this season.
Daryl Morey’s Sixers retained two young stars in guard Tyrese Maxey and third-year forward Matisse Thybulle, both of whom are fan-favorites in Philly.
In the end, Harden and Simmons both got what they wanted. Harden was reportedly unhappy carrying the load for the Nets after Durant’s injury and for Kyrie Irving missing games due to his COVID-19 vaccination status and inability to play home games per New York City’s vaccination policy.
Harden wanted to be moved but did not formally request a trade because he thought it would look bad to do so two seasons in a row.
Simmons had problems with the Sixers after losing in the playoffs last year. He was upset due to Doc Rivers not supporting him when asked whether the team could win with him. Simmons butted heads with Embiid, who did not want to play with him anymore.
The trade could be what the Nets need after a rough start to February. Brooklyn is 1-9 in its last 10 games and fell to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
Despite losing Harden and falling in the standings, the Nets are still consensus favorites to win the title at 4-1 odds (Caesars Sportsbook), while the 76ers moved from 12-1 to 7-1.
(Photo: The Sporting News)
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