Written By Gilbert McGregor
In the latest Ben Simmons non-update update, the 76ers appear even more poised to hold on to the three-time All-Star through the Feb. 10 trade deadline.
According to a report from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey is content with standing pat at the trade deadline as he "has his sights set" on orchestrating a deal to acquire Nets superstar James Harden.
Simmons, 25, has not suited up for the 76ers this season after requesting a trade in the 2021 offseason. After reporting to the team in October, Simmons let the franchise know that he is not mentally ready to play for them.
The relationship between Ben Simmons and the 76ers isn't improving.
In hopes of acquiescing Simmons' trade request, Morey and the Sixers have been active on the trade market, with teams such as the Hawks, Hornets and Kings emerging as potential suitors. Morey, however, has maintained that there is a short list of players that he deems to be a part of an acceptable return for Simmons.
Morey, who has already said that it's "less than likely" that a deal gets done before the deadline, has maintained a high asking price in return for Simmons, only seeking players that would increase the Sixers' chances to win an NBA title.
This latest report indicates that Morey is willing to go a full season without Simmons suiting up, as he believes offers from teams like the Hawks, Hornets and Kings will still stand in the offseason and could be sweetened with more draft capital.
That said, while the aforementioned deals will still likely be on the table, waiting until the summer opens the door for the Sixers to make a move for a player like Harden, who could enter free agency by declining his player option for the 2022-23 season.
In October of 2021, Harden opted not to sign an extension with the Nets, saying "I don't plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. So my focus, honestly, is just focus on the season and then winning the championship. The contract and all that stuff will bear itself out, but my focus is going to be locked on this season."
James Harden on not signing an extension: “The contract, the money is going to be there. I don't plan on leaving this organization and the situation we have. My focus is on the season and winning a championship. The contract and all that stuff will play itself out as it should.” pic.twitter.com/Dugwr89CD5— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) October 20, 2021
At their best, the Nets have looked like a championship favorite, but injuries and Kyrie Irving's part-time availability could threaten their ability to contend in 2022. A playoff shortcoming could cause Harden to change his course on plans to re-sign with the Nets.
Should he opt in to the final year of his contract, Harden would earn $46.3 million during the 2022-23 season.
If Harden has a desire to move on and reunite with Morey, with whom he experienced success in Houston, the Nets could orchestrate a deal in which they would receive Simmons in return to build moving forward and extend their title window. For what it's worth, Simmons will earn $33.9 million in 2022-23.
According to the report, "if (the Sixers) can’t land Harden, of course, they’ll continue pursuing the likes of Portland’s Damian Lillard, Washington’s Bradley Beal or Boston’s Jaylen Brown."
In short: there are more chapters of the Ben Simmons saga to come.