Report: Ben Simmons was on table for James Harden trade, but Rockets went with Nets' offer

Jack Baer
·2 min read

James Harden is reportedly heading to the Brooklyn Nets after burning every bridge in sight with the Houston Rockets, but one other team was reportedly in hard pursuit of the former MVP.

The Philadelphia 76ers, one of Harden’s most preferred destinations, were interested enough in acquiring the disgruntled Harden that they put two-time All-Star Ben Simmons on the table, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sixers general manager Daryl Morey had previously shot down talk that Simmons was available in trade talks for Harden.

James Harden dribbles the ball against Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons for James Harden? The Sixers would have had to include a lot more to make it happen. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

In addition to Simmons, the Sixers also offered defensive ace Matisse Thybulle and an unknown amount of draft pick compensation.

The Rockets instead decided to go with the Nets’ package, which reportedly includes rising star Caris LeVert, big man Jarrett Allen, forward Taurean Prince, four unprotected first-round picks and four unprotected pick swaps. However, as part of a four-team deal, LeVert is instead heading to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for star Victor Oladipo, while Allen and Prince will land with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It was a monster offer from Brooklyn, and one the Sixers were apparently unwilling to match.

Ben Simmons ‘fine’ with being offered in trade

An unfortunate part of offering one of your stars in a trade is that the star might not be too happy with you if said trade doesn’t go through. Fortunately for Morey, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Simmons is “fine” with how Wednesday played out, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, while Brian Windhorst of ESPN said that Simmons was prepared to be traded despite no word from the team. Another ESPN reporter, Marc Spears, said Simmons is happy to not be traded and wanted to stay in Philadelphia.

Sixers refused to include rookie Tyrese Maxey in James Harden deal

The Sixers apparently had two ways to juice their offer. One was obvious: offer more picks and pick swaps. The other was to offer this year’s first-round pick, Tyrese Maxey.

However, Marc Stein of The New York Times reports that while the Sixers were willing to offer Simmons, giving up Maxey, the 21st overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft, was a no-go for Philadelphia.

In only 12 games with the Sixers, Maxey impressed as a playmaker. He is currently averaging 11.0 points and 2.7 assists on 47.6 percent shooting from the field, and went off for 39 points when his team was heavily shorthanded earlier this week. The Kentucky product is suddenly a significant building block for the Sixers, valued highly enough that Morey didn’t think it was worth including him in a deal for a reunion with Harden.

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