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Philadelphia 76ers willing to keep Ben Simmons past trade deadline, want James Harden

Matt Johnson

The NBA trade deadline is drawing closer and the Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly no closer to a Ben Simmons trade, holding out hope that Brooklyn Nets star James Harden becomes available.

Simmons demanded a trade this summer and hasn’t taken the court during the 2021-’22 season to work on his mental health. Despite the All-Star guard’s willingness to sit out the entire year, 76ers’ president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hasn’t backed down from his asking price and stance.

While many teams continue to explore trades, with rumors indicating the Sacramento Kings offered either De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, Morey is holding out for a lot more. With Damian Lillard sidelined indefinitely, Philadelphia is focused on Harden. If he isn’t available, Simmons might be stuck on the 76ers’ roster.

  • Ben Simmons contract: $33 million (2021-’22), $35.45 million (2022-’23), $37.9 million (2023-’23) and $40.34 million (2024-’25)

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, the 76ers are willing to keep Ben Simmons past the NBA trade deadline. If he is still on the roster after Feb. 10, Philadelphia would inquire about a Simmons-Harden deal with Brooklyn this summer.

Related: NBA playoff predictions – Bracket picks & 2023 Finals champion

The asking price for a Simmons trade is driving teams away. It became evident that Morey either wants a superstar back for his star who is sitting out or he wants a haul of assets to flip for a superstar. But even if the latter is offered, the 76ers also reportedly want a team to absorb the Tobias Harris contract.

“It really is important that the player we add to Joel, if we really want to take our odds from wherever we’re at right now to something materially higher, it has to come back in an impact player. If you trade one of these great players for multiple, it does not move your championship odds enough to make a difference. It might take us from where we’re at now to a little bit better, but it’s very slightly better.

Philadelphia 76ers’ Daryl Morey on what he wants in a Ben Simmons trade, via 97.5 The Fanatic

Harden holds a $47.366 million player option for the 2022-’23 season, which will likely be declined. Morey’s relationship with Harden from their time together in Houston is making him the new target. But only time will tell on whether or not the pursuit is successful.