76ers acquire Harden from Nets for Simmons, Curry, more

James Harden Ben Simmons trade
James Harden is on his way to the 76ers.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Ben Simmons era in Philadelphia has finally ended after a tumultuous six months — and the 76ers are coming away with one of the game’s very best guards in James Harden.

Daryl Morey pulled off the blockbuster that the basketball world had been waiting for roughly two hours before the NBA’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline on Thursday afternoon. Harden heads to Philadelphia along with veteran forward Paul Millsap while the Sixers send Simmons, veteran guard Seth Curry, forward Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks to the Nets.

As a part of the deal, Harden has opted into the $47.3 million player option on his contract that will secure him in Philadelphia for the 2022-23 season.

Rumors had persisted for weeks that the Sixers and Nets were talking about a potential deal, but negotiations ramped up on Thursday morning to the point that they were able to get the deal done before the deadline.

The swap allows both the Nets and 76ers to move their discontent star guards. Harden had made it known in recent weeks that he wanted out of Brooklyn due to frustrations ranging from Kyrie Irving’s unvaccinated drama to his living situation.

For the Sixers, they finally unload Simmons, who had been holding out of playing for the team since publicly demanding a trade during the offseason. After momentarily returning just before the start of the regular season, he told the team he was not mentally ready to rejoin them — subsequently eating fines for every practice and game he missed.

Ben Simmons 76ers
Ben SimmonsJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Not only does the three-time All-Star yield a top-level talent like Harden, who is averaging 22.5 points, 10.2 assists, and eight rebounds per game this season, but they were able to retain both of their young, promising guards in Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle — both of whom were forecasted as untouchable by Morey as trade talks heated up.

Harden now provides the 76ers with a floor general that can finally open up the floor for superstar center Joel Embiid, who is playing at an MVP clip this season. It’s something the franchise has been looking for throughout Embiid’s career but was ultimately unable to get with Simmons given his offensive deficiencies.

Simmons, on the other hand, can provide the Nets with a steady star option at the point guard position in all games should he return this season. Irving is not allowed to play in home games at Barclays Center in Brooklyn due to New York City mandates that require all players to be vaccinated.

The 25-year-old, who is vaccinated, will provide a major boost for the Nets’ defense while acting as a facilitator for the likes of Kevin Durant, who will run Brooklyn’s offense when Irving is unavailable. Curry will provide another deep threat in Brooklyn thanks to his three-point shooting prowess.