Ben Simmons Rumor of the Day: a James Harden Preference?

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It’s time for your Ben Simmons rumor of the day.

At The Athletic, we have a joint report from Shams Charania and Sam Amick:

The 76ers continue to engage in trade talks around Simmons, who requested a trade and informed the franchise in October that he is not mentally ready to play again for the franchise and needs professional help for his mental health. But multiple sources, including people with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking and also from rival teams involved on the Simmons front, tell The Athletic that the 76ers are believed to prefer to wait in order to pursue (James) Harden or another superstar in the offseason and thus want to save Simmons for that potential sign-and-trade rather than take what’s available on the current market.

Unless Philadelphia is blown away at the deadline by a team that significantly improves its current best offer, in other words, the standstill between Simmons and the Sixers will continue past the deadline. There’s belief that the offers currently available would be there in the offseason too, but what may not be, if a Simmons deal is completed now, is a shot at a star like Harden.  Simmons entered this season with four years and $147 million remaining on his maximum contract.

James Harden turns 33 in August. He’s having a good year up in Brooklyn, just “good” considering the standard we’ve come to expect, which is perennial All Star dating back almost 10 full years now. Harden + Joel Embiid would be pretty exciting, if Sixers fans are willing to wait.

We’ve been over that part before. Waiting until the summer may get a better return for Ben Simmons, and give the 2022-2023 team a legit chance at winning it all. But does making a move now do the same thing for this year? The Sixers are 2.5 games out of first as of January 24th, having played without Simmons this entire season. Can you sell the “be patient” thing to fans who just watched this team blow it at home against the Hawks as the #1 seed?

You keep reading stories like this one, and you wonder if it lights a fire under other GM butts, i.e. do they believe this “we’re gonna wait” stuff and then panic into upping their Simmons offers as February 10th draws closer. It’s hard to say. There’s so much agent-driven bullshit floating around out there that you don’t know who to trust or what to believe. We’ll have to wait for a reputable outlet like “Ballsack Sports” to chime in.

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