NBA rumors: 76ers all in for James Harden?

More on Ben Simmons Trade

According to sources, Harden and his camp have maintained a close relationship with Morey. In addition, Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin is also tight with Harden and his friends. Harden’s close friend and rapper Lil Baby was even on hand when Rubin, Meek Mill and the Sixers hosted 25 youths from the Philadelphia area before their Dec. 15 game against the Miami Heat. Together, the group provided a Wells Fargo Center experience through the REFORM Alliance for young people who have been adversely affected by criminal justice.
Sacramento and Atlanta have been among the most engaged recently in talks on Simmons, sources said, but team officials with those organizations doubt the 76ers will lower the price threshold for Simmons before Feb. 10. Between now and Feb. 10, the 76ers will continue taking calls and examining potential framework of offers presented to them. The Charlotte Hornets have been among new teams placing a Simmons inquiry to the 76ers, but there’s been nothing substantive, sources said. In return for Simmons, the 76ers have wanted a top-level All-Star or a package featuring a bevy of first-round draft picks for Simmons.
Marc Stein on Ben Simmons: When I talk to executives with other teams, it just comes up so much so often, that these rival executives think that Daryl’s real goal here is to wait till the offseason and try to do a sign and trade for James Harden. Now, that would be super complicated, because it would hard cap the Sixers and they would definitely have to shed much more salary. Much more salary than just Ben here. So the mathematics of a Harden sign and trade, even if Harden is like ‘I want to go to Philly’, even if that happened, that would be difficult.
There has been a lot of talks recently about Simmons and the Kings, specifically when it comes to De’Aaron Fox, but there is no guarantee that a deal gets done despite Morey’s connection with Kings GM Monte McNair. Morey on that situation: I can tell you that for sure, there are deals with the Sacramento Kings that I think would work. Will those deals ever happen? I have no idea. Are there just trade deals with the Kings? Probably not. Is it multiple teams? Probably, but for sure there are deals that are possible that would go over our line.
Daryl Morey: The one thing we’re in agreement on is we would like a win-win trade. A trade that helps the 76ers, it’s most likely going to help Ben in his mind and what his goals are and we’d like to accomplish that by by the February 10 deadline. If we don’t, then I think this foundation that we’ve established, we’ll see if that can help us work through things if there isn’t a trade. Trades are hard to do. It takes two, right? That’s again why I feel the fans frustration like just get a deal done.
Daryl Morey: I do think with how great Joel is, our line has moved down a little bit because Joel has lifted us into contention by his sheer will of greatness this year, that does push the number of deals that we would do more likely, if that makes any sense. It’s more likely than we can find ones that get us into that top few contention because of our great Joel is playing. So we are sitting right now on a better chance of a trade that actually helps Joel and the Sixers and Tobias and our whole team. There’s a better chance that happens because of how great Joel has been.
The Athletic: The Kings have no interest in taking back Tobias Harris in a Ben Simmons deal, a source tells @Sam Amick. Sacramento still sees a pathway to Simmons. pic.twitter.com/un5dZ2HcKu
Make no mistake, sources close to Simmons continue to insist that he’ll sit out the entire season if a deal isn’t done by the deadline. To DA’s point, that means the postseason would be unnecessarily brutal on Embiid when it comes to the load he’s asked to carry. There is, not surprisingly, serious skepticism from Simmons’ side as to the authenticity of Embiid’s messaging. “Joel is Daryl, and Daryl is Joel,” as one source put it.
"He's never going to play another game in Philly," Barkley said. "The fans won't forgive him." "They have to make a trade," he added. "You have to move on from a bad relationship. They're not using him and Joel Embiid has been playing great this year, so they're wasting his talents." Barkley -- who spent 8 seasons with the Sixers -- is familiar with how ruthless Philly fans can be ... recalling times they were hard on him when he played for the org. "I know those fans very well," Barkley said. "I thought my name was Charles Barkley Son of a Bitch for a long time when I was there."
The Philadelphia 76ers guard is reportedly "open" to sitting out for the entire 2021-22 season despite the fines he's racking up, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. "I think the sense is, if it takes the entire season to trade him, if it takes all year for the Sixers to find a trade that's acceptable for them, he's prepared for that," Shelburne said Monday on NBA Today.
Philadelphia brass, sources told B/R, is still optimistic that Simmons may even be willing to return to game action in that event, although league personnel familiar with Simmons' side believe he has no interest in ever wearing a Sixers uniform again.
A team could stack contracts to match Harris' lofty number, but the more likely scenario has Simmons staying in Philadelphia past the deadline, short of a new trade candidate emerging. The 76ers do not view holding onto Simmons as punting on a season of Embiid's prime, a common criticism made by rival front offices. Philadelphia brass, sources told B/R, is still optimistic that Simmons may even be willing to return to game action in that event, although league personnel familiar with Simmons' side believe he has no interest in ever wearing a Sixers uniform again.
Teams have been waiting on the looming uncertainty regarding Damian Lillard's health in Portland. There remains a strong possibility that Lillard's upcoming abdominal surgery is season-ending, sources told B/R, after Lillard first contemplated going under the knife this past offseason following the Tokyo Olympics.
Lillard has struggled playing through abdominal tendinopathy that has plagued him for several seasons. If Lillard were to be ruled out for the remainder of the year, rival executives are hoping it would force Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers to lower their asking price on Ben Simmons. 
The Sixers are targeting top 25-caliber players for trades, but those kinds of assets have yet to be made available to them in offers, sources said. Some teams have even described the Sixers' asking price for a Simmons' deal as growing in price -- not declining, sources told ESPN.
According to , the Simmons-Sixers ordeal may not be close to being over. NBA Today host/ESPN reporter Malika Andrews asked him if there was any movement on the Simmons trade front. “Malika, there is no movement. And listen, we may be in this situation all the way until the NBA Draft,” Wojnarowski said.
Of course, the Denver Nuggets guard's dad, Doc, has been trying to mend the relationship between Ben and the Sixers org. for months now ... but BS has yet to play a minute of hoops for Philly this season. And when we asked Austin about the situation, he says he doesn't see Simmons playing for the Sixers ever again. "No man, probably not. I don’t think so," Rivers answered. "If he hasn’t suited up by now, then I don’t think so."
Austin says his dad and the team have done everything in their power to retain the 25-year-old ... despite Simmons' desire to be traded. "S***, they tried, bro," he said. "Look how long it’s been. I think they tried to keep him. He wants to go somewhere else obviously." Rivers ultimately wishes BS well saying ... "I just want the young man to be happy. He’s talented. He’s a great player."
But we forget sometimes that executives are ultra-competitive in their professions as well, and it’s safe to say Morey has no interest in executing a bad deal because of pressure ever again. As an aside, sources say that’s also the reason the Sixers have zero interest in the prospect of swapping Simmons for Westbrook now and alleviating the Lakers’ fit concerns with their superstar trio.
Accurate or not, this years-long pattern of Simmons struggling with confidence issues on the floor is seen by some interested teams as a separate matter from the mental-health struggles that he has cited as his reason for staying off it. In terms of Simmons’ eventual availability with a new team, the message has been sent that he would be ready to play after a few weeks of intensified conditioning and court action.
Will that position change as we get closer to the Feb. 10 trade deadline? Teams I’ve talked to aren’t so sure Philly will have the stomach to reject a solid but not spectacular offer for Simmons, not with the Eastern Conference’s looking so competitive and Joel Embiid’s playing at an MVP level.
The Philadelphia 76ers have begun to attach Tobias Harris to their trade discussions of Ben Simmons, according to Brian Windhorst and Marc J. Spears of ESPN. Harris signed a five-year, $180 million deal with the 76ers during the 2019 offseason. "I'm hearing they want to include Tobias Harris," said Spears of Philadelphia's trade talks with the Atlanta Hawks. "Me too," replied Windhorst. "That is the word out there because they can't necessarily get an All-Star they want in return right now, as the Sixers have continued their talks, they've talked to teams about trading Tobias and Ben."
Darren Wolfson: Ben Simmons of Philadelphia remains squarely on the Wolves radar. The Wolves would love just like many months ago to find a way to acquire Ben Simmons. Easier said than done.
The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, have emerged as a new Simmons suitor to watch, sources say, as last season’s Eastern Conference Cinderellas slide farther and farther away from the levels they reached during an unexpected run to the conference finals. The Hawks awoke Monday, courtesy of a 2-4 road trip, marooned in 12th in the East at 17-22 and down to No. 27 leaguewide in defense rating.
One source close to the situation insisted to me over the weekend that the Sixers have little-to-no hope of success if their intent is to let the trade deadline pass without dealing Simmons and then try to lobby him to rejoin the squad for the regular season's stretch run as well as the postseason. While still listed as out game after game for personal reasons while focusing on his mental health, Simmons is said to be holding firm on his pledge to never again wear the uniform of the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
The Knicks have internally discussed pathways to landing Ben Simmons, but New York has never phoned Sixers brass regarding any potential deal structure, league sources told B/R. It is difficult to imagine a direct scenario where the Knicks could meet Philadelphia's lofty asking price of a top-tier player without including a third team.
Canvassing several NBA sources, none like the idea of Randle and Simmons on the floor together. And yet, the Knicks certainly have the assets needed to get a deal done if the Sixers are looking for multiple prospects. Or if they find a third team open to sending a playoff-ready veteran to Philadelphia in exchange for New York's many young players.
More than four weeks are left in this trade season for the Sixers to amend that stance, but the vibe they continue to emit — no matter how loudly outsiders push back — is that they believe waiting can indeed enhance their chances of acquiring a Damian Lillard or a Bradley Beal for Simmons. As it stands.
Use the Kings as an example. Sacramento is now reportedly open to making De’Aaron Fox and/or Tyrese Haliburton available in the right deals, and those aren’t equal propositions for Philadelphia. In all likelihood, sources say, a deal involving Fox would almost certainly have to be a three-team deal, moving Fox to another party in order to get what the Sixers think they need.
Still, sources say the Sixers — who have been on the lookout for an All-Star in return for Simmons for so long now — have continued to ask for a massive haul in return while frustrating some suitors along the way. As such, some team executives remain convinced that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is still waiting for Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal to be made available down the line (i.e. this summer at the earliest).
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be a team to watch in the Simmons sweepstakes: COVID issues in the league has cooled a lot of thetrade talk around the league, but as players start to get back, teams get their rosters back, you know Ben Simmons in Philadelphia, I think you’ll see the Sixers start to reengage teams. Certainly he is no closer to agreeing to come back to play with the Sixers this season and they don’t have any real traction on atrade yet.Trade deadline is February 10 and you can expect teams who’ve been engaged with Philly previously Indiana, Sacramento, Minnesota among them but but here’s an interesting thing to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers who before they went on this really incredible start to the season had been engaged with Philly on Simmons. They’ve got some really intriguing assets either in a straight deal with Philly or perhaps a three or four team deal and we reported earlier J.B. Bickerstaff agreed to a new extension today through ’26-’27, but this is a team in Cleveland that’s just a game out of third place.
Marc Stein: The Sixers have been adamant that they're not going to trade Ben Simmons until their demands are met in terms of a return package. And I would say that they've convinced many, many people around the league that they're going to stick with that stance, even if that takes them past this trade deadline. And even if that means that they can't trade Simmons until the offseason.
Windhorst: There’s been a number of rumors that have gone around the league in the last few weeks about Ben Simmons trade involving the Morey quarangular. That would be Philadelphia, Minnesota, the Kings, and the Rockets. … Let’s just say there has been a lot of discussion. I’ve had executives tell me that when Ben Simmons gets traded, it will include one or more of the quadrangular. Not that that’s where Ben Simmons would go, but they would probably be involved, because a Ben Simmons trade likely ends up being a multi-team deal. MacMahon: The Rockets have been much better lately, but they get ‘Hey, this is very early in a rebuild.’ So they’re trying to wedge their way in and get ammo for a rebuild, for sure.
Ryan Ward: Fresh odds have surfaced on Ben Simmons regarding his next team. The Lakers are rumored to be interested in Simmons, but 5 teams have better odds, according to @betonline_ag: FAVORITE - Blazers: 7/4 Pacers: 2/1 Pelicans: 5/2 Knicks: 3/1 Celtics: 5/1 LAKERS: 7/1
Jake Fischer: The only outgoing call I confirmed was to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons… When I got the information that they called about Ben, the conversation pretty much was, “We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?” The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.
Jake Fischer: They don’t have to move Ben just to move him and not waste a year of Embiid’s prime. They really believe that if they move Simmons for anything less than they value him, they’ll be sacrificing multiple years of Embiid’s prime for not maximizing Simmons as a trade asset. Their ultimate goal still remains to have Simmons get back on the court and join them because that was their goal I think moving into the offseason anyway. Simmons became a trade candidate when he requested it. I think the Sixers were definitely open to moving him for someone like Damian Lillard, Beal, or Harden. Short of that, they believe Ben is their best chance right now and the best possible addition to get this team back to where they were last year as the top team in the East.
One source said the Kings are still shopping a package including Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III in hopes of getting a good player in return. Sources told The Bee over the summer the Kings had expressed interest in the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam.
The Sixers have long targeted Lillard, who reaffirmed his desire to stay in Portland around the start of the team's training camp. After the recent firing of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, Cronin has publicly and privately said the franchise plans to keep building around Lillard. The Blazers have been open to discussing a deal for Simmons centered on guard CJ McCollum, but that conversation never gathered traction, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lillard has repeatedly expressed his commitment to want to remain in Portland on his current long-term contract, and interim GM Joe Cronin has also expressed a strong commitment to continue building the franchise around the All-NBA guard.
The Pacers' sudden willingness to field trade calls on two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis and center Myles Turner, perhaps even to entertain a rebuild, does not bring them closer to the potential acquisition of Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The 76ers have essentially completed a third of their season at 14-12 but league sources say that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey continues to hold firm on his ambitions in a Simmons deal, seeking a return package for Simmons headlined by a player from the Damian Lillard/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tier.
The Spurs also know that Popovich's presence still resonates with many players more than anything else San Antonio has to offer as a destination. Example: I've heard that Ben Simmons would welcome the opportunity to play for Popovich if the Spurs found a way to acquire him.
San Antonio’s efforts to crash the trade hunt for Simmons have been well-chronicled, but Philadelphia remains intent on holding out for Portland's Damian Lillard or another proven All-Star in a Simmons swap. While the Spurs clearly don't have one, it's nonetheless tantalizing to picture Simmons landing in the Alamo City so Popovich and Chip Engelland, San Antonio's renowned shooting coach, can lead the cause to rehabilitate the wayward Simmons' game.
This preseason's trade talks between Portland and Philadelphia never advanced beyond early framework discussions, sources told B/R. Olshey believed the Blazers were constructed well enough to compete in the Western Conference and had little interest in parting ways with McCollum.
Interestingly, after the rumors of Lillard wanting to play with Simmons spread like wildfire online, the Australian guard caught win of the development and showed his interest in it. While the 25-year-old didn’t directly address it, he did “like” a post on Bleacher Report Instagram discussing the news.
Goorjian hopes Simmons finds a new home to help him flourish again and stressed that the Aussie had full support from the Boomers camp moving forward. “I just hope right now he finds a team, finds a place where he’s comfortable and gets on with his career,” he said. “I said to him: ‘We’re here for you. You’ve had some situations at Philly with your teammates, with the coach, with the organisation. You come here; we’ll welcome you with open arms. I think you’re going to love the environment, it’s your call.’”
Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Trail Blazers’ league-worst defense would instantly improve, and sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter could work given Lillard’s high-volume usage.
Sources say the Trail Blazers, under Olshey, discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia. The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected. Olshey maintained significant confidence in the roster he constructed. Now, it’s unclear if there’s a deal to be had with the 76ers. But with Olshey out, who among chair Jody Allen, vice chair Bert Kolde and Cronin would be the one making the call on a Simmons trade or any acquisition designed to alleviate Lillard’s concerns?
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June 29, 2022 | 2:15 pm EDT Update