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Sixers rumor mill: Is there ‘something there with Beal-Simmons?’ Plus, Harden’s growing frustration

The Sixers continue to be linked to James Harden and Bradley Beal as the Ben Simmons saga continues.

Brooklyn Nets v Washington Wizards Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

There’s not many days left before the NBA Trade deadline now — it’s just one week away. Most of the recent Sixers’ rumors involve some very big fish, and the bulk of those scenarios figure to play out by summer.

Perhaps that’s where the Sixers are focused. Teams who’ve continually pushed to acquire Ben Simmons simply don’t have many of the top-30 caliber players the Sixers want.

These groups like an Indiana, Sacramento, Minnesota, etc. could play facilitator, but the clock is ticking and complicated three- or four-team deals take a lot of time. We could be headed for one of the loudest, quiet deadlines in Sixers history.

Real Deal Beal Rumors

We rounded up a lot on Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal and whether or not Tyrese Maxey or Matisse Thybulle might be untouchable in a Simmons-Beal blockbuster Wednesday, so if you want to get caught up start here.

The Sixers suffered one of their toughest losses of the season yesterday, a 106-103 home loss to the D.C. group. The Wiz didn’t even have their lone All-Star in Beal available. That game served as a cruel reminder that if the Sixers want to win the title this year Joel Embiid can use some All-Star quality help. It also drew our attention to Beal, since he’s likely headed for unrestricted free agency.

Should the Wizards get ahead of that and trade him now? Would they risk losing him for nothing? Do the combined chances of getting Beal to either agree to a monster $240M five-year deal in July, with the fallback chance for a sign-and-trade, make holding the St. Louis native through deadline worth Tommy Shepard’s while?

The Ringer’s Bill Simmons and Kevin O’Connor discussed the latest on “The Bill Simmons Podcast.”

Simmons: “I think there’s something there with Beal-Simmons, no inside info. Just, I think it’s something that’s logical especially with the way Brooklyn, and I think we both have a lot of the same intel, Brooklyn has really cracked down on this Harden thing. They’re like ‘look, we’re not helping this happen....But I think Brooklyn is pretty emboldened on the F-You stance with the Simmons-Harden trade.”

Bill Simmons isn’t exactly making the case that Beal is available to the Sixers. He’s more making the case that Harden, the player most connected to Philadelphia in a Ben Simmons trade, will be unobtainable to them.

Simmons point is that while the Sixers do not have cap space, they’d need the Nets’ cooperation to bring Harden to Broad St. His sources have indicated the Nets have zero interest in helping a Conference rival. So if Harden (more on him coming) isn’t really on the table, maybe the Sixers would push to acquire Beal.

Whether the Sixers might not outright prefer Beal over Harden is an interesting debate. Beal doesn’t have the resume The Beard does, he doesn’t have any history with Sixers’ President Daryl Morey. But he’s just a 28 year-old now. If he were signed from his age-29 through his age-32 seasons, might he provide a better value to Embiid than Harden would during his respective age 33-37 seasons? Would the Sixers include Tyrese Maxey for one or both? If so, which one?

More from the BS pod on the subject of a Beal blockbuster:

KOC: And ultimately though, like everything that you hear about the Wizards with the people you talk to around the league is that Beal would like to stay and sign the supermax, and that the wizards are shopping-

BS: I’m sure he would.

KOC: Yeah definitely, no doubt about that....I just don’t know what you can do to to properly build around Bradley Beal [who’d be best as] the second best player on your team. How do you get to that point? ....that’s why i think trading Beal if its there, that’s the path to go.”

So we have some insight that the Nets may not want to trade Harden to Philly, even if that’s what Harden preferred. We have some insight that the Sixers may know that, and could then push harder for Beal, who Simmons and O’Connor think should be available, even if they have intel indicating Beal wants to sign a long-term deal in D.C.

James Harden’s latest

A couple of hours after the Sixers lost to the Wizards, the Nets suffered arguably their worst loss of the season. With Kevin Durant, nursing a sprained MCL, still weeks away from his return, Brooklyn dropped their 6th straight game after a 111-101 loss to the Kings, who didn’t even have D’Aaron Fox in the lineup.

Harden scored four points on 2 of 11 from the floor, and depending on your vantage point, The Beard looked anywhere from fatigued or injured to outright disengaged or bored.

After the game, he had some comments that could be heard as simply a player, having just played poorly, while banged up, on the second night of a west coast back-to-back, showing a hint of emotion. But with all of the reports from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report we’ve read lately, it casts an ominous light over Harden’s otherwise vague post-game appearance.

Harden was asked if the Nets will have a player’s only meeting to address their on court issues.

“Uh, no, I think we’ve done too much talking. I think we’ve done too much talking, we just, we gotta go out there and do it.” You can find more quotes and the full context here.

Why have things been so inconsistent?

“We just got a lot of different things internally, lineups, we haven’t had no continuity yet so it’s just one of those things where you just gotta keep going, nothing else to do, keep going, keep pushing forward.”

Fischer reported Harden has several issues with Brooklyn. He’s alluded to Nets’ coach Steve Nash’s penchant to go with hot hand lineups at the end of games, rather than a consistent unit. He’s talked about Irving’s part-time status too, both sources of frustration for Harden.

It’s hard not to think of those rumors, supposedly coming from Harden’s own camp, when hearing the 2018 MVP cite “different things internally” or ”lineups” as issues.

If we trust Bill Simmons’ intel that the Nets have no interest in helping Harden land in Philly, and we trust Fischer’s reports that Harden has “increased interest” in exploring free agency and how he likes the idea of a fit with Joel Embiid, then we can crank up our dial that says the Sixers might really explore ways to gain max cap space, ‘cause Harden might absolutely be disgruntled but the Nets may simply be unwilling to let him go. If Morey had the cash to sign Harden outright, they wouldn’t need anyone’s cooperation.

Those max-cap space scenarios include trading Ben Simmons as well as Tobias Harris.

For what it’s worth, Kyrie Irving recently pushed back on the idea the Nets have “issues.” He also said he dreams of playing with Harden and KD long-term. “It’s not something that is shortsighted for us. We think about the long-term and how well we gel together as a trio.”

But Harden hasn’t been quite as clear on that front as Irving has recently.

Final analysis

If the Sixers somehow had their choice between Harden and Beal, for a four-year deal this July, I think that would be a more difficult choice than some fans realize. If one but not the other team said we’ll take Ben Simmons but you have to throw in Tyrese Maxey, then which star guard Morey would prefer suddenly becomes more clear.

The optimist might see an opportunity to acquire one or both of Beal and Harden and indeed either one would be an awesome fits next to Embiid. The pessimist could focus on the two nuggets above that Beal wants to sign his supermax in Washington and the Nets have basically said “F-you” to the Sixers with regards to a Harden-for-Simmons swap.

I think Harden is absolutely frustrated, and that the Nets should still be sizable favorites to keep him long-term. So much can change between today and June. I agree the Wizards should trade Beal, but I’m worried he can just look at Harden and ask himself “why don’t I sign a supermax, then just ask for a trade a year or two after I take the cash? James got himself to Brooklyn that way.”

Morey and the Sixers may just need one of these dudes to instead say “you know what, I’m gonna go win a title with that Olajuwon, Shaq, Kobe hybrid they got over in Philly. I hate how my hand looks without a ring on it.”