February 08, 2022
UPDATE [1:33 p.m.] — We have our second trade of the day — but once again it doesn't directly involve the Sixers, despite the James Harden rumors flying left and right in the last 36 hours. It does, however, involve a team who was once rumored to be interested in acquiring Ben Simmons but recently dropped out of the running and another team who has also been linked to Simmons.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Pacers are trading Domantas Sabonis, Jeremy Lamb and Justin Holiday to the Kings for Tyrese Hailburton, Buddy Hield and Tristan Thompson. Originally, Woj's tweet also broke news that the Pacers managed to clone Lamb, but he has since corrected that to say the second lamb should actually be Holiday.
Jeremy Lamb AND Justin Holiday. https://t.co/0GbRwKcRBP— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 8, 2022
While that means the list of potential Simmons suitors is shrinking, that may not matter much to Sixers fans, who (like Daryl Morey) now have their sights set on a much bigger prize, like James Harden, Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, even if that means waiting until the summer.
UPDATE [10:48 a.m] — According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, while the Ben Simmons-James Harden rumors continue to fly, both teams have begun exploring other trades, including the Sixers making calls to try to unload Tobias Harris. Here's more from Windhorst:
The Sixers and Nets have proceeded with other trade calls in recent days, sources say. The Nets, for their part, are looking to see if there is a market for injured guard Joe Harris, while the Sixers are looking for a way to move Tobias Harris -- potentially to clear cap space in the summer to sign Harden outright.
But these talks could just as well be a smokescreen, a masquerade by both parties to make it seem like each has more options than just a Harden-Simmons swap. [espn.com]
Get ready, it could be a busy couple of days. Or it could be nothing at all.
UPDATE [10:35 a.m.] — We've got a trade! Just not a Sixers trade.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Blazers are continuing to sell as they prepare to send guard CJ McCollum to the Pelicans for a package centered around former Villanova guard Josh Hart.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the deal is not yet finalized but they are working toward a possible conclusion as soon as Tuesday.
[Mini update: Woj says the deal is agreed to, and Portland is also sending Larry Nance and Tony Snell to the Pelicans.]
So, what does this mean for the Sixers? Well, at one point, McCollum was thought to be an option in trading Ben Simmons, but Morey has since made it clear that he's looking for more than that. More likely, however, this could be more signs of Portland going into an all-out rebuild after already shipping Norman Powell and Robert Covington to the Clippers. Does that mean they're budging on their stance surrounding Damian Lillard? Could the All-Star guard suddenly be available with just a couple of days left before the trade deadline? Stay tuned...
[Mini update: Woj says the Blazers are not planning to build their roster back up around Lillard and bring in stars now with the money they created from their recent deals.]
A lot of the focus around this NBA trade deadline, especially for Sixers fans, has been centered on Ben Simmons and, more recently James Harden. And for good reason. They're two max players and perennial All-Stars, with the former refusing to play for his current team and the latter being the apple of the Sixers front office's eye.
But what other Sixers, if any, are likely to be dealt ahead of Thursday's deadline? Even if the only move Daryl Morey and Co. actually pull off is a Simmons trade, there's a decent chance that another player is included in the deal, especially if Morey is bringing back the kind of All-Star return he's seeking, whether that be Harden, Bradley Beal or, less likely, Damian Lillard.
Let's start there. So far, a lot of the talk surrounding a Simmons-Harden swap has mentioned the possibility of the Sixers trading one of their younger players as well, in part to make the salaries match but also to sweeten the pot for Brooklyn a little bit. Names like Matisse Thybulle, Seth Curry and, much to the dismay of Sixers fans, Tyrese Maxey have been thrown out there. But according to Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, it's actually a veteran name who might be more likely to be the extra piece in a Harden trade.
In a Harden-for-Simmons deal, Philly would need to add about $2.5 million or more in salary to make it a valid trade. But I’m told someone like Danny Green is more likely to be included than one of Philly’s young players. Curry is an integral part of the Sixers’ offense, and without Thybulle they’d lack a perimeter stopper. Harden would provide more than Simmons does on offense, but the latter’s absence is still massive on defense. Philly understandably wants to keep Thybulle. Green is more expendable. He’s useful, but not quite in his prime anymore. [theringer.com]
As for Maxey, who seems to be getting better every time out, he appears to be staying right where he is.
"Sources say Maxey is totally off the table," O'Connor writes.
As for Green, this isn't the first time we've seen speculation that he could be moved ahead of the deadline. It is, however, the first we've heard of him possibly being included in a Harden deal over one of the team's younger players. The last time we mentioned Green, it was more about the team trying to get below the luxury tax threshold, and parting ways with Green for a less expensive three-and-D guy is one way to do that. Bringing in Harden, however, would be something else entirely.
So, as both sides trade contradictory leaks through the media — ESPN is reporting there have been no discussions beyond an introductory call that was immediately dismissed by Sean Marks and the Nets, while The Athletic's sources say the Nets are actually open to the idea of trading Harden — where does the truth lie? As usual, it's probably somewhere in between.
But with the deadline rapidly approaching, we could find out our answer in the next couple of days. Or, nothing could happen, and these Simmons-for-Harden rumors could continue into the summer, which would imply that Simmons is still a Sixer for the rest of the season. Could a lack of a deadline deal cause him to soften his stance on returning to the team, something that seems like a bit of an impossibility at the moment?
Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report says some of the people around Simmons are pushing for just that.
“Numerous figures affiliated with Simmons’ representation insist he’ll never dress for the franchise again, but there are people around Simmons who have recently pushed for the All-Star to retake the floor if he’s not dealt, sources said.” [bleacherreport.com]
Well, that would certainly be something. Given Joel Embiid's latest interview — not to mention what the team has been saying publicly all along — the Sixers would at least be open to him returning. But reading between the lines of what Embiid said, it's pretty clear he's over the whole situation. And we haven't even begun to discuss how the team spins this to the fans, because honestly I don't really think there's any way they can. But that's a discussion we can save for after the deadline. Simmons might not be here come Friday morning anyway, and then all of this is moot.
In the meantime, we've got you covered with the latest trade rumors and news from around the NBA in our live trade deadline tracker. And, as always, we'll top off this post with any news that's specifically relevant to the Sixers. Let's dive in...
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