NBA: Nets and 76ers Swap Problems in Trade of James Harden for Ben Simmons

Harden heads to Philly in exchange for Simmons and a package including Seth Curry and two first-round picks

James Harden drives against Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. The Brooklyn Nets just traded Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, as well as a few other players and picks in the equation.
James Harden drives against Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty

A long-rumored bombshell deal between divisional rivals in the Eastern Conference finally went down in the NBA ahead of Thursday afternoon’s trade deadline.

First reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and an unprotected 2022 first-round pick along with a protected 2027 first-round pick. Paul Millsap will head to Philadelphia along with Harden in the deal.

Without an injured Kevin Durant and only able to deploy unvaccinated Kyrie Irving on the road away from Brooklyn, the Nets have lost nine games in a row and were in danger of losing Harden for nothing during free agency over the summer. So while the Nets had no desire to trade Harden initially and are likely worse off in the short term after dealing him, the move makes some sense for a franchise that saw its attempt at building an NBA super team crumble quickly.

Brookyn’s chances at making a championship run this season were slipping away before this move and, while Curry can help provide a little offense on a team that is woefully thin behind its two missing superstars, the Nets are in trouble until Durant can return from his left knee injury. Simmons, who hasn’t played in an NBA game since June 2021 when the Sixers were eliminated by the Atlanta Hawks in last year’s playoffs, should be a compelling asset once he gets up to speed but it could be a couple of weeks until one of the league’s top triple-double threats is ready to start really contributing.

On the Philadelphia side of the equation, the 76ers have just given franchise cornerstone Joel Embiid the most talented teammate he’s ever had in Harden. A force on both ends of the floor, Embiid is in the midst of an MVP-level season and playing with a threat like Harden should make him even more dangerous. Embiid and Harden immediately become one of the NBA’s most lethal duos and the Sixers will likely look to sign the latter to an extension to justify what they gave up to bring him to Philly. Currently ranked fifth in the East, the 76ers are now a favorite to make the NBA Finals.

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