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Report: Nets, Sixers closer to James Harden-Ben Simmons trade

Feb 2, 2022; Sacramento, California, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reacts during the third quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets and 76ers are making progress on a possible trade that would send James Harden to Philadelphia and Ben Simmons to Brooklyn, ESPN reported Wednesday.

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Still being discussed are the other players the Sixers would be willing to send with Simmons, both to even out the trade financially and to help the Nets down the stretch. The ESPN report said Brooklyn is looking for “two or three other pieces” along with Simmons.

Philadelphia also would need to clear financial space to sign Harden to a contract extension, meaning the potential involvement of other teams to complete a deal.

The trade deadline is Thursday at 3 p.m. ET.

Although Nets head coach Steve Nash earlier denied reports earlier that Harden could be traded, the star guard has become increasingly disgruntled in Brooklyn. Harden will be a free agent after the 2021-22 season.

The Nets were expected to compete for the NBA title behind Harden and fellow stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But Durant is injured and Irving is a part-time player because of his refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and the Nets have dropped nine straight games to fall to eighth place and the play-in position in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.

Harden, 32, has a hamstring strain and hasn’t played since a loss to the Sacramento Kings on Feb. 2. He played 37 minutes and scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting but had 12 assists and seven rebounds.

On the season, Harden has played in 44 games, averaging 22.5 points and a team-leading 10.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Simmons has not played this season and has asked to be traded. The Simmons camp reportedly cited mental health issues and an inability to mesh on the court with teammate Joel Embiid as reasons for wanting to leave.

Simmons, 25, is a three-time All-Star over his four NBA seasons, scoring 15.9 points with 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists in 275 career games, all starts with the 76ers. He was the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Sixers out of LSU in 2016.

–Field Level Media

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