“At the end of the day, it’s Harden all the way,” Pompey quoted a source as saying on the 76ers’ pursuit. “They want Harden whether they get him now, whether they get him on a forced sign-and-trade this summer.”
Harden is eligible for free agency this summer and has a good relationship with 76ers president of operations Daryl Morey from their days together with the Rockets. There is no sense, though, that Harden is unhappy with the Nets — though reports are suddenly conflicting on that front.
As for a Simmons-Harden trade ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline, forget about it. This is more likely something that the 76ers will pursue during the offseason. They won’t have the cap space to sign Harden outright, which is where the idea of sending Simmons to the Nets comes in.
The again, they might not.
“If I’m the Nets, am I giving up James Harden until I know what Ben is going to be?” a league source asked Pompey. “And am I giving him up to go 100 miles away? I’m going to have to see [Harden] several different times a season. I’m not doing that.”
The 76ers and Simmons have both been hopeful of finding a trade since around late July. Simmons, 25, has yet to appear in a game this season.
While Philadelphia could wait until the summer to find a deal, multiple reports have suggested they are engaged with a number of teams in exploring a Simmons move before the deadline.