Wow. So, the trade that felt like it would never happen finally went down. The Brooklyn Nets have agreed to send James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round picks, sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The potential of this trade has been debated over for months, and now just hours before the deadline, we get this blockbuster that could change the pecking order in the Eastern Conference moving forward. Daryl Morey has had his mind set on getting Harden to Philly ever since he forced his way out of Houston last year.
Ben Simmons vs. the 76ers was a dramatic storyline that dragged on for over seven months. Morey wasn’t going to stop until he got the right offer, and that offer was obviously his old buddy James Harden. He took a chance on Harden 10 years ago, and short of winning a championship, I’d say it paid off in Houston. Harden carried that team about as far as he could. Once Morey was gone and things began to fall apart, Harden couldn’t wait to get the hell out of town. And now, barely 12 months later, Harden is fed up (yet again) and ready to skip out on the Nets for a better situation. Looks like James’ philosophy says that the grass is always greener somewhere else.
The Sixers had been hot during December and January but have cooled off over the past couple of weeks. They’re currently the No. 5 seed in the East but find themselves just 2.5 games behind the first-place Miami Heat. Harden could be just what the Sixers need to make a late season run that carries into the playoffs. James joins a team with one of the leading candidates for MVP in Joel Embiid. Having Harden on the floor should take some of the scoring load off Embiid’s shoulders. Philly can’t expect him to continue scoring 40 plus points every other game.
That type of expectation just isn’t feasible for a player who’s battled injuries his entire career.
Ben Simmons is undoubtedly jumping for joy as he won this standoff. Yes, he came back to practice in October, but immediately got himself kicked out by head coach Doc Rivers for declining to run drills in practice. If you think that wasn’t planned by Simmons and his advisers, then you’re sadly mistaken. Once Rivers threw Simmons under the bus and Embiid came along and backed up over him, that was the end of Simmons in Philly. At least in his mind. I think his mind was made up within hours that he’d just played his last game in a Sixers uniform. And now we see that’s precisely what happened.
Most people, whether media or fans, have been critical of Morey for his stubbornness regarding a Simmons trade. It’s been reported for months that Morey’s asking price was far too high. And that seemed to be the case according to some reported offers. But Morey ultimately snagged the best catch for him and the Sixers.
Upon leaving the Rockets, Morey wrote an emotional farewell and thanked Harden.
“James Harden changed my life. An entire page could be dedicated just to James. He not only transformed my life, but he also revolutionized the game of basketball — and continues to do so — as almost no one has before. The game is played differently because of James, and on every playground in the world, the next generation of talent is studying and imitating his game.
I can’t believe I won’t be able to have another strategy session with James. I loved working together on how to get his incredible Hall of Fame teammates Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, and Russell Westbrook to the Rockets. I will be rooting for James to win a championship for Houston. It’s how this story should end.”
If loving the Beard is wrong, Daryl don’t wanna be right. But what’s love got to do with it? This is about winning a championship. The accomplishment that eluded Morey and Harden for eight years together in Houston. It became clear that Simmons and Embiid likely wouldn’t get the job done in Philly. But Morey wasn’t going to settle and trade Ben for just anyone. Morey was so hell-bent on acquiring Harden that he traded away his best shooter (Curry), a big (Drummond), and two first-round draft picks along with Simmons to bring in the 2018 MVP. Now that’s what I call dedication.
If forced to choose a winner right now, I’d say Brooklyn. Harden, 32, has struggled most of the season thus far, and the 25-year-old Simmons comes in fresh and with a new outlook on life and his career. The Nets can basically play the 6-foot-11 Simmons just about anywhere on the court, defensively. And aside from shooting, he does everything at a high level on offense. Personality-wise, Ben should be a good fit with Durant and Kyrie “Part-Timer” Irving. The first time these teams will meet with their newest acquisitions is on March 10. That’ll be a nationally televised game on TNT, so that evening should be lit. Goodness gracious, what a day. This NBA trade deadline has certainly lived up to the hype. And the NBA managed to steal some attention away from Super Bowl week in the process.