The NBA trade deadline is less than seven hours away, meaning the long wait to see if the Ben Simmons saga will finally end this week is almost over. There could (hopefully) be deals on the way very soon.
For now as we get deadline day underway, we just have some small updates.
Firstly, Kyle Neubeck of the Philly Voice has reiterated that Tyrese Maxey is being protected in trade talks, and reported how Seth Curry and Matisse Thybulle are being viewed:
The Sixers have protected young guard Tyrese Maxey throughout discussions with the Nets, and Matisse Thybulle is a player they would like to keep in almost all scenarios here. Seth Curry is viewed as the best available secondary piece in a Simmons-Harden swap, sources say, though there has been pushback from Sixers sources on Curry as well. The overarching theme is that these teams both believe they can play hardball — the Sixers are threatening to acquire Harden this summer without needing to compensate Brooklyn at all, and the Nets have tried to convince the Sixers they can still make a title run with this group and ultimately convince Harden to stay.
Over the last few days, there has been more noise regarding the possibility of signing Harden outright leaking out of the organization.
No matter how far any trade discussions have gone between the Sixers and Nets, the main thing to work out now would be what complementary pieces are added to the deal — seeing as the Sixers want Harden and at least some people in Brooklyn are reportedly interested in making a move for Simmons.
Given Maxey’s breakout performance this season, rapid growth in his short time in the NBA, and budding potential to become a star guard, plus previous reports about his status as being untouchable or close to it, it’s no surprise that the Sixers have still been keeping him out of discussions with the Nets. This should be the case.
Reluctance to include Seth Curry also makes sense given how valuable he is offensively, not to mention the fact he has one of the best bargain contracts in the NBA at just $8.18 million this season and $8.55 million in 2022-23. Trying to keep Matisse Thybulle to solidify the team’s perimeter defensive is understandable, too. But giving up one of either Curry or Thybulle with any draft capital required seems like the most likely package the Sixers would be willing/required to offer.
If nothing happens before the deadline, the Sixers sound prepared to make a run to sign Harden outright in free agency this summer. If the Sixers have possible suitors lined up for an offseason trade to move off Harris’ contract (he’s owed $38.42 million next season), which is something Neubeck has reported on before as well, they could create enough cap space to sign Harden. Ideally for Philly, this is what gives them some extra leverage to avoid giving up too much for Harden at the deadline, if they can worry the Nets about potentially losing Harden for nothing this summer.
In Marc Stein’s latest piece summing up new trade buzz, he also touched on how much the Nets may be after in return for Harden:
My best sense on the James Harden front is that there is indeed a steep price at which the Nets would reluctantly consent to surrender on Deadline Day and accept a trade offer from the 76ers now rather than run the risk at season’s end that Philadelphia manages to create enough salary-cap space to sign Harden away outright in the offseason. Yet it remained unclear, dribbling into Thursday, whether Philly was really prepared to pay that premium this week, which would likely mean attaching Seth Curry or Matisse Thybulle to Ben Simmons in a swap for Harden. The good news: We’ll soon know for sure, at long last, if Simmons’ career with the Sixers is finally over or destined to carry into June.
Wednesday was filled with new reports going back and forth. From hearing that the Sixers and Nets were engaged in trade discussions and we were in a “deal zone”, to an update from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that there were no negotiations happening just a few hours later, there was a lot to keep up with.
This morning, Wojnarowski mentioned on another appearance on ESPN’s Get Up that he expects the Nets and Sixers to “talk on some level” today, and that Philly has “significant motivation” to get something done.
Woj on Get Up: “I do think we’ll see Brooklyn and Philadelphia talk on some level.”— Austin Krell (@NBAKrell) February 10, 2022
Says there’s significant motivation on Philadelphia’s side to get something done.
“There’s a lot at stake here.”
Nothing here is surprising, of course. We know the Sixers are pursuing Harden. Even if the Nets maintain a higher asking price than expected and more members of their organization end up leaning towards keeping Harden to maximize their own title chances this season, the Sixers are going to be active in trying to make something happen.
Until a trade actually happens or the deadline passes, there’ll be conflicting information from different teams and sources who are all angling for leverage. We really do just need to wait and see how things play out at this point. But given how much increasing smoke there’s been about the possibility of a Harden-Simmons deal (which I mostly summarized in this piece yesterday), there seems to be a real chance that something happens before the deadline.
At least the waiting and endless wondering about what will happen is almost over.