Don’t worry Philly fans, Ben Simmons is staying put.
James Harden is leaving the Rockets and while there was speculation the Aussie would take his place, the disgruntled Houston star is instead heading to Brooklyn as the Nets took a major step towards establishing the NBA’s next superteam.
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Eight-time All-Star Harden joins top dogs Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in New York as the Nets went all-out to secure one of the biggest names in the league.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports the Nets are giving up four unprotected first-round draft picks and four first-round pick swaps to get their man in a wild deal that also involves Cleveland and Indiana.
ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski called Houston’s return “one of the strongest draft packages in league history”.
“Whatever the future of Kyrie Irving with the Nets, this trade does one more important thing for Brooklyn: It makes a strong case to help keep the franchise’s most important player — Kevin Durant — beyond his current contract,” Wojnarowski added.
Harden’s toxic relationship with Houston has been untenable for some time and the point-scoring freak went public this week with his desire to get out.
“(The Rockets are) just not good enough. Chemistry, talent-wise, it was clear,” Harden said.
“I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”
Reports in the US media emerged today saying the Rockets were pursuing a possible trade deal with Philadelphia, with rumours Harden could be sent to the 76ers in exchange for Simmons and Tyrese Maxey.
New York Times NBA reporter Marc Stein said the Sixers were the frontrunners to secure Harden’s services — but the Nets stole their thunder.
“The Rockets are pursuing a trade package from the 76ers that would be headlined by Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, league sources say,” Stein wrote on Twitter before the final deal was made, adding “the Nets have also remained in pursuit”.
Charania reported earlier had the 76ers and Rockets come to an agreement, then Simmons was firmly in the frame to be traded — but Philly bosses didn’t need to cross that bridge in the end.
Simmons has enjoyed a bright start to the season, averaging 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists across the opening 10 games of the campaign.
Philadelphia had previously poured cold water on rumours the 24-year-old would be thrown on the trade table — and he’ll remain with the franchise he’s played for since being taken as the No. 1 draft pick in 2016.
ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith said before Harden’s blockbuster trade the Rockets pin-up wanted to go to Philadelphia, but suggested the finer details to get him there may have been too difficult to agree on.
“The bottom line is, James Harden wants out, he wants out by any means necessary,” Smith said this week.
“I don’t know if they (the 76ers) have the assets they’re willing to give up to get James Harden, because I think it would take Ben Simmons, a couple of (draft) picks, maybe another player in order to get James Harden from Houston and I don’t see Philly doing that.”
NBA WORLD REACTS
Harden’s trade sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and plenty of players were quick to react.
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell tweeted “woah” while Washington’s Bradley Beal simply said “WOW”.
Portland’s CJ McCollum responded to the news by calling the it the “most entertaining sport in the business”.