Per Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, the 76ers may hang on to Simmons in the hope that they can use him to land Harden during the offseason. And if not Harden, then “another superstar” from a rival team, Charania and Amick added.
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.
As for Harden, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has a history with the star guard, dating back to their days with the Rockets. Morey was the GM when Harden was putting up all those points in Houston.
Interestingly, the 76ers were in talks with the Rockets when Harden became available there. But Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta let Harden pick between the 76ers and Nets, and Harden chose the latter.
“Despite that choice, Harden did not ink an extension with Brooklyn this offseason. It’s widely expected he’ll opt out of his current deal this summer to pursue a long-term maximum contract,” RealGM wrote. “That’s when Morey and the Sixers hope to get involved in a sign-and-trade package for Harden that involves Simmons.”
Given the 76ers’ current situation, and the success of the Nets, it may take a lot for Morey to convince Brooklyn to give up Harden in some sort of sign-and-trade for Simmons, who has missed an entire year.
But from the sounds of things, the 76ers are keeping it as an option should they fail to get back something else they really want for Simmons.