After the James Harden trade was announced, one of the first reactions we heard about was that of Ben Simmons letting out a sigh of relief. We all knew it was Philly vs. Brooklyn, but we didn’t know it was this close.
“The Sixers thought they had a deal for Harden done, according to sources … Simmons and (Matisse) Thybulle were even informed by their agents on Wednesday of an expected trade.”Keith Pompey, Philadelphia Inqurer
The Pacers President Kevin Pritchard revealed that phones were burning 10 minutes after Harden’s press conference following the Rockets’ loss to the Lakers. Everyone in the league knew it was time to make your best offer, and the 76ers were confident they had a deal done. Now they know it was a ruse all along.
It’s no secret Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta wasn’t happy about Daryl Morey leaving to spend more time with family and then signing a five year deal with the Sixers two weeks later. It seems the Rockets just used the Sixers to ramp up the price for Harden and never intended to trade Harden to Philadelphia.
“They [Rockets] never called the Sixers back for a counteroffer before making the four-team blockbuster deal that sent Harden to Brooklyn.”Keith Pompey, Philadelphia Inqurer
Reports came out that the Sixers offered Simmons, Thybule, and protected picks. Insiders said Morey was haggling over the protections on those picks and whether he’d include Tyrese Maxey in the deal. Even if Harden wasn’t the love of Morey’s basketball life, he wouldn’t pass on harden over pick protections and Tyrese Maxey – but the Rockets never called back.
As much as Simmons is happy he’s still in Philly, there are fences to mend in the locker room. If the team informs your agent a deal is imminent, and you get a call to prepare to pack your bags, there’s no way it doesn’t leave a mark. If the Wizards don’t start winning soon and Bradley Beal rumors start surfacing, Simmons will surely be discussed as a potential trade chip.
Even if the Sixers say they’re not interested, can Simmons trust them?