The Sixers are expected to pursue Nets star James Harden in the days leading up to the February 10 trade deadline, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, who reports that Brooklyn is now believed to be open to discussing a possible deal.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said last week that the Nets wouldn’t consider moving Harden at the deadline, but Charania’s latest report suggests the team isn’t closing the door on the possibility. Sources tell Charania the 76ers and Nets are expected to engage in talks about Ben Simmons and Harden before next Thursday.
According to Charania, Nets officials don’t have any urgency to make a trade involving Harden and still view their roster as championship-caliber as is. However, if Philadelphia is willing to sweeten the deal by attaching more assets – including players like Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey, and/or Matisse Thybulle – to Simmons, Brooklyn will listen, in case there’s a deal to be made that makes the team more well-rounded as it pursues a title.
As Charania explains, there have been some concerns in Brooklyn about Harden’s playing style, since the former MVP’s tendency to dominate the ball and play at his own pace contrasts with the more “free-flowing, organic” approach employed by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Head coach Steve Nash has met with the trio to try to find a balance and optimize the offense, per Charania, but the team has yet to hit its stride. Of course, that’s in part because the three stars are so rarely available at the same time.
Still, unless they have major concerns about the on-court fit and Harden’s flight risk in the offseason, the Nets seem unlikely to do anything drastic in the next six days. They’d want a “significant haul” from the Sixers, Charania writes.
Philadelphia has long been focused on landing a star in any Simmons deal, with Harden and Bradley Beal among the players at the top of their wish list. The expectation had been that a player of that caliber wouldn’t become available until the offseason, when both Harden and Beal can opt out of their respective deals.
The Sixers have projected a willingness to extend their standoff with Simmons until then, with Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com reporting today that a deadline deal involving the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up appears increasingly unlikely. If Harden is legitimately available ahead of the deadline though, or if the Wizards are willing to talk about Beal, that could accelerate Philadelphia’s timeline.
The 76ers also continue to discuss possible Simmons scenarios with other teams, according to Charania. Sources tell The Athletic that the Hawks have been the most engaged suitor in recent weeks, having discussed a framework that includes John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and draft picks.
The Timberwolves have also remained in touch with Philadelphia about Simmons and have been open to the idea of taking on Tobias Harris, says Charania. However, Minnesota isn’t willing to part with the draft assets the Sixers are seeking.