The Sixers and Nets engaged in trade discussions on Tuesday, multiple sources tell Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, who says the two sides “bickered” over pieces to add to a hypothetical deal involving James Harden and Ben Simmons.
Despite the discussions, there doesn’t appear to be any traction on a Harden/Simmons blockbuster, according to Chris Mannix of SI.com. Mannix says the Nets still remain publicly and privately steadfast against the idea of moving Harden during the season, believing that – despite the current nine-game losing streak – the team will be fine once it gets healthy.
Although the Nets have certainly publicly expressed their desire to retain Harden, Pompey isn’t convinced that the team’s private stance is as unwavering, citing one source who says Brooklyn’s decision-makers are split behind closed doors. Some people within the organization would be open to moving Harden now, believing he’s hurting team chemistry, according to Pompey.
Still, even if the Nets were open to the idea of trading Harden today or tomorrow, it seems unlikely that the two teams would be able to agree on a package. As others have reported and as Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com reiterates, the Sixers have made it clear that Tyrese Maxey is unavailable this week and they’ve resisted the idea of offering Matisse Thybulle along with Simmons.
While it’s possible Philadelphia would be willing to add Seth Curry to its trade offer, even that’s a dubious proposition, a team source tells Neubeck. And even with Curry included, Mannix says it’s not clear whether that would move the needle enough for Brooklyn to make a deal.
Here’s more on the Sixers, Nets, and the Harden/Simmons situation:
- The Sixers have had conversations with the Thunder about Tobias Harris, according to Pompey. However, one of Pompey’s sources downplayed those talks, suggesting they may have been instigated by Oklahoma City and adding that Harris has nothing to worry about. Even if Philadelphia is interested in moving Harris in a salary-dump deal, it’s unlikely to happen this week unless it’s part of a series of moves, since the forward is a key part of the current lineup.
- As Neubeck writes, the Sixers clearly seem to be trying to signal to Brooklyn that they believe they’ll be able to clear the necessary cap space to sign Harden in the offseason without having to worry about a sign-and-trade. Sources tell Neubeck that Philadelphia has lined up a couple potential trade partners willing to take on Harris’ contract using cap space, presumably in the summer.
- In that scenario, the idea for the 76ers would be to move Harris to one team this offseason and Simmons to another, taking back little – if any – salary in return, in order to clear cap room to sign Harden. While this is one path the Sixers could take, the fact that they’re putting it out there could just be a negotiating ploy to encourage the Nets to seriously consider moving Harden by Thursday’s deadline.
- For his part, Harris is looking forward to getting through the trade deadline and being able to focus on basketball for the rest of the season, as Tim Bontemps of ESPN relays. “That will be good for us. Because you’re just hearing everybody’s name. I’ll just be honest, it’s one of those things … trade rumors always come around, even for guys around the NBA, but in this situation, yeah, I was reading an article and there were five guys on the top 10 list to be moved, whatever,” Harris said. “So, obviously don’t get twisted: that has an impact on guys’ mental, psyche, focus, all the way down the line. So we’ll see what happens.”
- Asked again on Tuesday about the possibility of Simmons returning to the team if he’s not dealt before the deadline, Sixers center Joel Embiid again said that he’d be fine with that, per Bontemps. “Like I’ve been saying since the season started, I’m happy,” Embiid said. “Whoever wants to play is welcome. If someone wants to play, they’re welcome. But we’ve got guys here that want to be here, that show up every single night. … And if you want to be part of us, I am sure everybody is gonna be fine with it, but you got to show up. You got to want to be there. And I’m sure everybody is going to accept whoever that is.”