NBA: Nets trade Harden to 76ers for Simmons, others—reports; Porzingis to Wizards
NEW YORK – Three-time NBA scoring champion James Harden was traded by the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal for Australian Ben Simmons and others, according to mutliple reports Thursday.
ESPN and The Athletic reported the deal will deliver the Sixers a backcourt dynamo in Harden in exchange for Simmons, who has sat out the 2021-22 season, as well as Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round NBA Draft choices.
The blockbuster deal was the major move teams and fans had awaited as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline approached.
Harden, the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player, was traded from Houston to the Nets in January 2021 as part of a four-team deal that was expected to make Brooklyn a major title threat this season with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving alongside.
It hasn’t worked out that way, in part due to injuries that have kept the superstar trio from spending much time on the court together, Harden being nagged by a sore hamstring while Irving is unvaccinated for COVID-19 and banned from home games under New York City virus safety regulations.
Harden, 32, is averaging 22.5 points, an NBA second-best 10.2 assists and 8.0 rebounds a game this season for the Nets, who at 29-25 rank only eighth in the Eastern Conference, three games behind the 76ers (32-22) and 5.5 adrift of East leader Miami.
Harden gets another chance with a title contender and adds a major shooting guard to a Sixers lineup powered by Cameroonian center Joel Embiid, the NBA’s leading scorer with 29.4 points a game.
The trade also ends a long-running saga with Simmons in Phildelphia, the Aussie guard never seeming to fit well alongside Embiid in the 76ers system.
Simmons, 25, was the NBA 2018 Rookie of the Year and an NBA All-Star for the next three seasons.
He skipped training camp and has not reported to the team this season over what he termed as mental issues.
In four NBA seasons, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists.
If he were to be able to bring those numbers consistently to the Nets, it might help the club offset the reduced availability of Irving and provide the outside threat Durant needs to dominate inside, such as he enjoyed with Curry’s brother Stephen during two NBA championship seasons with Golden State before coming to Brooklyn.
Porzingis to Wizards
There were reports of other moves in the final hours that deals could be made for the campaign.
Dallas sent Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis and a second-round draft pick to the Washington Wizards in a deal that sent Spencer Dinwiddie and Latvian forward Davis Bertans to the Mavericks.
The Wizards also sent center Montrezl Harrell to Charlotte for Ish Smith and Vernon Carey.
Spanish center Serge Ibaka went to the reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks as part of a four-team swap that also sent Marvin Bagley to Detroit, Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye to the Los Angeles Clippers and Donte DiVincenzo and Josh Jackson to Sacramento.
The Phoenix Suns, who lost last year’s NBA Finals to the Bucks, reacquired forward Torrey Craig from that 2020-21 team in a deal with Indiana for Jalen Smith and a second-round pick.
Bol Bol, son of the late Sudanese NBA giant Manute Bol, and P.J. Dozier — both sidelined by surgery — were traded from the Boston Celtics to the Orlando Magic with cash and a draft pick for a 2023 second-round pick.
The move was made to get the Celtics under the NBA salary cap and avoid a fine for exceeding the cap in three of four seasons.
Boston also acquired San Antonio guard Derrick White while the Spurs also made a deal with Toronto, landing Slovenian guard Goran Dragic and a 2022 first-round pick in exchange for Thaddeus Young, Drew Eubanks and a second-round 2022 pick.