Within a Substack article about the Ben Simmons situation, veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein repeats a point that has been expressed by a number of league insiders in recent months, writing that there’s a belief the Sixers are willing to retain Simmons until the offseason in case they can use him to acquire James Harden from the Nets. Harden has a player option for 2022/23, so if he wants a change of scenery, he could either opt out and pursue a new team as a free agent or push for a trade while opting in.
According to Stein, “there is enough noise circulating leaguewide about Harden’s reported openness to relocation this summer” to convince Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey it might make sense to hang onto Simmons through the deadline.
Stein’s wording is a little convoluted, suggesting any intel on Harden’s intentions probably isn’t from a first- or even second-hand source. But the idea that the former MVP isn’t a lock to stay in Brooklyn is an intriguing one — he turned down an extension offer from the Nets prior to the season.
Still, Harden has also spoken about wanting to remain in Brooklyn for the rest of his career, and given how the NBA’s salary cap and Collective Bargaining Agreement work, his decision to forgo an extension may have been more about maximizing his future earnings rather than a desire to jump ship. The Nets’ performance in this spring’s playoffs will certainly be fascinating to follow, since both Harden and Kyrie Irving are eligible for free agency this offseason.
Here’s more on the Nets:
- The Nets have yet to offer any specific timeline for Kevin Durant‘s recovery from a left knee sprain, and Nash remained evasive today when he discussed the star forward’s status, as Brian Lewis of The New York Post writes. “I think we don’t have a timeline, and it’s also a few weeks before we reevaluate it,” Nash said. “So, right now we’re just going to wait and see how it heels and how he recovers over the next few weeks, and then there will be more of an evaluation and hopefully some sort of timeline.” Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported that a four-to-six week recovery timetable is the expectation for Durant.
- Joe Harris, who is coming off November ankle surgery, is with the Nets on their current road trip and is doing some shooting, but he won’t play during the trip, according to Nash (Twitter link via Lewis). That means Harris will remain sidelined for at least the next four games.
- After missing the Nets’ last five games due to right foot soreness, LaMarcus Aldridge is back in action on Monday, tweets Nick Friedell of ESPN.