The Sixers continue to discuss possible Ben Simmons trades with potential suitors, but sources with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking – and sources from rival clubs – believe Philadelphia still prefers to hang onto Simmons until the offseason in order to pursue James Harden or another star player, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
The Kings and Hawks are among the teams that have been most engaged with the 76ers as of late, with the Hornets also inquiring on Simmons, per The Athletic’s report. Philadelphia has asked Sacramento for a package that includes Tyrese Haliburton and multiple first-round picks, and wants John Collins and multiple first-rounders from Atlanta, according to Charania and Amick, who hear that the Sixers would also want the Hawks to take on Tobias Harris‘ pricey contract.
None of those scenarios have generated serious traction, and team officials in Sacramento and Atlanta are skeptical that the Sixers will lower their asking price for Simmons much – if at all – by the February 10 trade deadline, according to The Athletic’s duo.
Sources tell Charania and Amick that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has the full support of ownership to extend the Simmons sweepstakes into the offseason. Although Philadelphia obviously doesn’t want to waste an MVP-caliber season from Joel Embiid, the club is more concerned about not squandering its top trade chip in Simmons by settling for one of the offers currently on the table. There’s a belief those offers will still be available in the summer, and there could be better options for Philadelphia at that point, Charania and Amick say.
“There’s no sense of panic (to do a deal before the deadline),” a source with knowledge of the Sixers’ thinking told The Athletic.
Here’s more on the Simmons situation:
- The Sixers have explored deals that would be centered around players like Kings guard De’Aaron Fox, Pacers center Domantas Sabonis, and Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, but felt those players weren’t “championship-altering, perfect fits” for their roster, according to Charania and Amick.
- When the Rockets traded Harden to the Nets a year ago, the Sixers were a serious contender for the star guard, having offered Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, and two first-round picks, per The Athletic. During the Rockets’ decision-making process, owner Tilman Fertitta asked Harden whether he preferred to go to Brooklyn or Philadelphia, and Harden chose Brooklyn. It’s unclear if Houston would’ve taken the Sixers’ deal if Harden preferred Philadelphia, according to Charania and Amick, who hear from sources that the Rockets liked the Nets’ proposal more.
- Although Harden chose Brooklyn over Philadelphia last year, sources tell The Athletic that Morey is optimistic about his chances of landing the former MVP in the offseason and believes Harden views the Sixers’ situation “in a positive light.” Philadelphia’s cap situation would make an offseason sign-and-trade acquisition of Harden challenging (even if the Nets were interested in Simmons), but not impossible.