Report: 76ers eyeing Simmons-Harden deal in summer
Unless the Philadelphia 76ers are blown away by a substantially improved offer, they'd prefer to keep Ben Simmons in hopes of orchestrating a blockbuster deal for Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden in the offseason, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick.
Simmons has yet to play this season and is officially out for personal reasons while addressing his mental health.
The disgruntled three-time All-Star informed the 76ers of his desire to be traded last summer and has reportedly indicated that he'll continue to sit out the rest of the season if not moved by the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
76ers general manager Daryl Morey reportedly has the blessing of the team's ownership to allow the holdout to extend past the trade deadline.
Simmons will still have three years and $113.7 million left on his contract after 2021-22.
He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.7 steals per game across the previous four campaigns and was the runner-up in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season.
Harden, 32, can reach unrestricted free agency this summer by declining his $47.4-million player option for 2022-23. If he does, the Nets would be able to re-sign the former league MVP to a multi-year extension or as part of a sign-and-trade deal.
However, as The Athletic notes, Harden could also exercise his player option, then ink a four-year maximum extension to stay in Brooklyn - resulting in a total contract of $274.7 million over five years.
There's no indication that Harden wishes to depart Brooklyn, having arrived barely over a year ago after nearly a decade with the Houston Rockets.
The sixth-seeded 76ers are 27-19 this campaign, thanks in large part to another strong season from franchise center Joel Embiid, who - besides a stint in COVID-19 protocols - has been atypically healthy.
With 28.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.4 blocks, and a steal per game, the 27-year-old has once again found himself in the heart of the MVP conversation - putting more pressure on Philadelphia to maximize his athletic prime.