NBA rumors: Summer possibility: James Harden to Philly, Ben Simmons to Brooklyn?

Winning without Simmons certainly makes it easier for Embiid to adopt that stance … and Philadelphia will be going for its 11th victory in 13 games Monday afternoon at Washington on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Perhaps he has also been sold on a concept that executives with a growing number of rival teams say they see as Morey’s new preferred scenario: Keeping Simmons beyond the trade deadline to exhaust every last possibility for executing a complicated sign-and-trade in the offseason that finally brings James Harden to Philadelphia and routes Simmons to Brooklyn.

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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?
I think Ben Simmons wanted to be traded. I feel like, he felt like how it was; people weren’t loyal to him. I do feel like he’s dealing with some stuff. I do. There were times last year that the 76ers were like making it seem like he was bothered by one thing, but they knew it was something else. I just feel like he feels betrayed. He feels like nobody really has his back, and it’s time to move on. Not only that. He also knows that the average Philadelphian wants him outta here. They don’t want him. There’s gonna be no more hostile place for Ben Simmons to play than in Philadelphia.
I think they gotta trade him, man. A lot of it will be predicated on how successful the 76ers are. I feel like if the 76ers are successful, and they have a chance of going deep in the playoffs, I can see them making a move and bringing somebody in. If the 76ers are struggling, and they decide to shut it down, then I can see them holding off until they can get somebody, maybe in free agency, in a sign and trade type of thing. I can’t see Ben Simmons being here and being a part of the team long term. Who knows? Never say never, but I don’t really see this marriage where you fine this dude, and you’re doing all this other stuff ,and he decides to all of a sudden come out and play. I can’t see that happening
Asking around, some believe the Sixers will be happy to carry this through the full 2021-22 season and resume discussions again next offseason when a new set of opportunities will become available to them. That could take shape in the form of sign-and-trade possibilities, disgruntled stars finally asking out of their own problematic situations, or new management hires for other franchises wanting to take big swings on talent like Simmons. And publicly, the Sixers have certainly suggested an extension of this standoff is possible, with Morey going so far as to say he'd take this all four years of Simmons' deal if that's what it took to get the best deal.
There are opportunities to fill the void with rumors and suggestions about what the Sixers are doing and where trade talks are or are not heading. The answer right now is, well, not much of anywhere, as sources say the Sixers are mostly waiting for things to open up a bit more on December 15th. That's the day, as I'm sure many of you know and have heard by now, that most players who signed contracts in the offseason can legally be traded, creating opportunities for larger deals around the league.
Darren Wolfson: It's just hard for me to see a scenario where Ben Simmons lands (in Minnesota) but Sachin Gupta, the inventor of the ESPN trade machine, will try to get uber creative, involve a third team. Those talks are ongoing. I am told that Gupta has been on the phone, but more so to acquaint himself with front offices he doesn't have a relationship with
A person close to the Sixers said the team would want a more high-profile player than Grant in exchange for Simmons. The source added that the team hasn’t spoken to the Pistons lately. But multiple sources said the Sixers have, and that the discussions were centered around Grant. The Athletic reported Thursday the Sixers have a list of 30 players they’d accept in a Simmons trade. However, several members of the front office are keen on the idea of keeping Simmons this season and pursuing Harden from the Brooklyn Nets for a sign and trade, according to multiple sources.
But here’s the part that may come as a surprise: A source with knowledge of the list said there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, and there’s an internal belief that a fair amount of them — let’s say five to 10 — could become available in the next year or two. And while it might sound like a long list, consider this much: It’s approximately six percent of the league and the rough equivalent to the number of All-Stars selected every season. The framing of the timeline, more than anything else, speaks volumes about the long-term approach the Sixers insist they’re taking. “This is like a multi-year thing,” a Sixers source said.
Yet when I checked in to update the state of affairs five days later, the message a source with knowledge of Simmons’ status shared was significantly less hopeful. As it stands, I don’t see a return happening anytime soon — if ever. What’s more, a source with knowledge of the talks between the Sixers and Simmons’ representatives indicated he’s reiterated his strong desire to be traded in recent days.
In the absence of a Simmons return, sources say, the Sixers’ belief is rival teams have grown even less motivated than before about making a move for Simmons because of the escalating uncertainty that surrounds him. If his mental health struggles aren’t solely the product of his Sixers experience, in other words, then who’s to say it will be any different somewhere else? From this standpoint, it’s not hard to find rival executives who confirm these suspicions.
So if the Sixers keep pushing for Simmons to return in a timely fashion and Simmons continues to balk, what comes next? That’s the great unknown. Will the league step in? A source with knowledge of the league’s view deemed its potential involvement a “last step,” while also emphasizing the fact that Simmons’ contract is not with the league but with the Sixers. As of now, it’s clear the league would strongly prefer to let the situation play out.
How’s it been dealing with the Ben Simmons situation for you and the team in the locker room? Seth Curry: Honestly, it’s been pretty normal. He hasn’t really been around the team at all, so it’s not like it’s been a distraction or anything. It’s kind of like he’s been out and not here. We know who we have on our team to start the season. Obviously, if he comes back, we’re going to integrate him. He’s been part of the team for a long time, so it shouldn’t be that hard.
Scotto: When I talk to other executives around the league about the situation with the Sixers, nobody feels sorry for Daryl Morey around the league. They think his asking price is way too high coming off the playoffs. Teams know Ben Simmons doesn’t want to be there. I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without him. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben.
Pompey: I think the whole thing is disappointing. I think it’s disappointing on both sides. I get that you have a player under contract, and they want to fine him, but it just seems like we knew since the end of last season that Ben Simmons didn’t want to be here. When you do your research and talk to sources, they were alerted of that right afterward, within days afterward (after the playoffs). Rich Paul told them that at the NBA Draft Combine, and then Ben told them that in person in August. You’re under the impression something’s going to happen. It hasn’t happened yet.
Can Udoka, who coached Simmons in Philadelphia as an assistant, get the best out of the former No. 1 overall pick? Yes. Would Simmons be interested in coming to Boston? Yes, according to a league source. And while Stevens has shown a willingness to take chances in his brief tenure as team president, he is understandably going to walk back these rumors and refute them immediately.
“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben,” Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul said. “Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?” A 76ers team official told The Athletic on Thursday it is “absolutely not” the case that they are forcing his return or accusing him of lying. The team’s position is that he should partake in all team activities until there is information from its mental health professional or Simmons that would preclude him from playing.
The 76ers say they have been fully supportive of Simmons’ process and have worked to provide him with all possible resources. As it stands, short of a doctor’s evaluation declaring he can’t play, the team expects Simmons to ramp up to return. The team sent Simmons a schedule for Thursday that included the team’s game against Toronto, which Simmons believes is an effort to withhold his game check if he does not appear at Wells Fargo Center. A fine has followed each time the 76ers have done this in the past. Simmons, who requested a trade out of Philadelphia in June, showed up to the arena on Thursday afternoon for a team meeting but did not participate in the team walkthrough or the game versus the Raptors.
Simmons, 25, has had no timetable to return to game action, but he has made it clear to team officials that he wants to be back on the floor when ready. Simmons has been participating in individual workouts, day-to-day body treatments, team shootarounds and meetings. “In this case, we have to get Ben help and not put finances above mental health,” Paul said. “As an agent, I understand contractual obligations and I hold myself accountable in this business. But if someone is telling you something, we can no longer turn a blind eye in today’s world.
After telling the team over the summer that he wouldn’t report to training camp, Simmons arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 11, two weeks into camp. The 76ers say that Oct. 22 was the first time Simmons informed them of any mental health concerns, and the moment they received his message they made available resources and provided support. Paul, however, said the 76ers were informed in the offseason that Simmons was not mentally ready to play in Philadelphia. The 76ers stopped fining Simmons on Oct. 22, but after two weeks went by without further information from Simmons about his process and clarity on his return-to-play status, the franchise reinstated fines and withholding payments on Nov. 5. Only then, team officials say, did Simmons meet with the team-affiliated specialist, on Monday, Nov. 8.
Team officials insist they have shown good faith throughout the process, such as releasing to Simmons the $8.25 million they withheld in an escrow on Oct. 19 — hours before he was thrown out of practice for declining to participate in a defensive drill — providing him with specialists to treat his back injury and mental health assistance as needed. Sixers officials emphasized that, to date, the team has yet to receive any information from its team therapist or Simmons’ personal specialists that would preclude him from playing or practicing. Paul, however, says that Simmons is not yet prepared to play. “He’s not there yet. How can a doctor, who has only met with Ben once, say, ‘Ben is mentally ready to play?’ So do we keep digging on him, or help him?” Paul said. “Now that we understand that reluctance from Ben, it all makes sense. There was a shying away from it. If Ben has repeatedly showed behavior that entails he isn’t mentally ready to play, embrace him. Support him. We have to remove our ego from it. We all have to take responsibility.”
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June 28, 2022 | 9:57 am EDT Update

Nerlens Noel to Clippers?

The New York Knicks have had exploratory discussions on trading center Nerlens Noel to the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told HoopsHype. Noel could fit into the Clippers’ $9.7 million trade exception previously generated by the Serge Ibaka trade. The Knicks have a surplus of draft pick compensation (22 picks total over the next seven years) to dangle.
This would seem to end the Irving drama for the Nets, at least for now, but ESPN’s Brian Windhorst says people around the NBA are skeptical. On the latest episode of The Hoop Collective pod, Windy revealed what he has been hearing on this situation after Kyrie’s decision (h/t RealGM): “I think it turned down the heat in at least kept the Nets with two star players, with all of their options for next year alive,” said Brian Windhorst. “And, boy, was that not what some people, agents and executives thought. They don’t think this is over. “Now, Kyrie tried to make it sound like it was over. ‘I’ll see you in the fall’ sounds like it’s over.”
Something important to consider is that Irving’s stature around the league should improve from its current state if he can stay healthy in 2022-23. After all, the seven-time All-Star tied a career-high with 27.4 points per game in just 29 contests last season and did so at roughly the same efficiency as the rest of his career. Anything close to a full season could remind the basketball world what Irving can do on the court, even at 30 years old, which could propel him to a longer tenure in Brooklyn or a more significant long-term commitment from another franchise than he received over the last few weeks. No matter what, it will be simultaneously fascinating and significant for both the league landscape and the future of the Brooklyn Nets.
Following a breakout season where Gary Payton II solidified himself as an NBA rotation player and stout on-ball defender, he’s expected to earn a sizable pay raise this offseason. Payton II is projected to earn $6-7 million annually, according to six NBA executives who spoke with HoopsHype. That figure would put him in range for the taxpayer mid-level exception for several teams across the league.