In the end, as Kevin Durant said, both sides got (basically) what they wanted.
“I’m excited for our team finishing the season out with this new group, and these new players - I’m excited. I think everyone got what they wanted,” said the Nets superstar. “Just glad we have guys that want to be a part of this.”
In news first broken by Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania, the Nets and Sixers finally completed a five-player deal Thursday afternoon that will send James Harden and Paul Millsap to Philadelphia in return for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, an unprotected first rounder in 2022, and a protected first in 2027. It was easily the biggest trade of the deadline in terms of both quantity and quality of the players moved.
Later, Woj reported in a bit of a surprise that the Nets will waive DeAndre’ Bembry to create a roster spot needed to complete the unbalanced trade.
ESPN’s NBA Today was live when the trade went down...
Ultimately, it was a trade centered on two players who wanted a change of scenery, two players with All-Star and in Harden’s case Hall of Fame credentials but with checkered pasts. Both got to join the team they wanted to join. In the end, both the Nets and Sixers got a quality player and in the Nets case two.
And assuming Kyrie Irving extends his contract in the off-season, the Nets will have their new “Big Three” under contract through at least 2024-25, adding stability and flexibility. Although the Nets lost one of the game’s best offensive players — and minds— in Harden, they gained one of the game’s best defensive players in Simmons. Simmons, 25, is also seven years younger than Harden.
Beyond the two key players, the Nets got Curry who is one of the best 3-point shooters in NBA history. The only active player with a higher 3-point percentage is Joe Harris whose status for the rest of the season remains a mystery. The two rank No. 3 (Harris) and No. 5 (Curry) all-time in career 3-point shooting, behind only Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis.
The Nets also got two first round draft picks in the process, one of them in this year’s draft where they had neither a first nor a second. In fact, prior to Thursday’s deal, Brooklyn couldn’t trade any of their firsts through 2028. Now, with those picks, Marks has a lot more flexibility. (The Nets also added another large trade exception — around $11.3 million — which they can use in either free agency or at next year’s deadline and significantly reduced their luxury tax load.)
There are big risks as well, of course. Simmons mental health has been an issue. Ramona Shelburne, who wrote a lengthy profile of the 25-year-old a little more than a week ago, reported that Simmons will continue to work with his therapist to get mentally ready to play in Brooklyn. “It’s a work in progress,” according to one source close to him, wrote Shelburne. After the trade, Shelburne said that she expects Simmons to debut after the All-Star Break.
But without the Philly fanatics to boo him and a welcoming fanbase in Brooklyn, it’s expected he’ll have an easier time. There’s also bound to be questions about when he’ll be ready to play, physically and mentally.
Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, Simmons agent, told Woj after the trade that his client. is eager to join Nets and ramp up for a return to play this season. Paul told Woj. “We’ve got to work to do to get him back to play, but it’s a great step in right direction.”
Not long after the deadline Woj also reported that Simmons has already spoken with Kevin Durant and Sean Marks. How quickly can he mesh with Durant and Kyrie Irving in a new “Big Three” is another question. There’s been reporting that Brooklyn would like to move Simmons from the point to the paint and have Irving man the 1. That of course can wait.
The big issue is that only 13 months after trading a treasure trove of young players, draft picks and swaps to acquire Harden, why didn’t the match work? The end indeed was ugly with virtually every pundit suggesting that Harden’s relationship with Irving had soured, his patience with the part-time, unvaccinated superstar having run out. The feeling apparently was mutual.
“Definitely a weird vibe between them,” one source said Joe Vardon of The Athletic. “You could tell Harden was annoyed, and Kyrie wasn’t feeling James.”
Now, after adding 10 new players in the off-season and other three at the trade deadline, the Nets will try again with only two months left in the regular season to get things right.
Here’s the series of tweets that broke the news...
The Sixers are sending the Nets an unprotected 2022 first-round pick and a protected 2027 first-round pick, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 10, 2022
The Brooklyn Nets are still working to be aggressive in more deal-making today, armed with two new first-round picks, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 10, 2022
The Nets are waiving DeAndre Bembry to create roster room for the trade today, sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) February 10, 2022
Yossi Gozlan of Hoopshype noted the big savings in luxury tax and the addition of another trade exception.
The Nets can also generate a new $11.3M trade exception if they take Seth Curry into the $11.45M Spencer Dinwiddie one. That leaves them with trade exceptions of $11.3M, $6.3M, and a $3.2M they can use along with the two first-round picks they acquired to improve the roster. https://t.co/GVgM2a6wQ2— Yossi Gozlan (@YossiGozlan) February 10, 2022
Curry and Drummond are expected to be available Saturday in Miami. Simmons is also expected to travel to Florida, but not play. Simmons who hasn’t played this year, will need to ramp up.
Brooklyn will take its time getting Ben Simmons acclimated, but the star guard welcomes a change of scenery and has already had conversations with Kevin Durant and they’re all on the same page, league sources tell @YahooSports.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) February 10, 2022
Here’s thumbnail profiles of the newest Nets.
- Simmons, a 6’11” guard, is a three-time All-Star, a two-time All-Defensive Team member and one-time All-NBA player. Over his career, the 2018 Rookie of the Year has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.7 steals with shooting splits of 56/15/60.
- Curry, a 6’1” sharpshooter, is one of the NBA’s best 3-point shooters and is averaging 15.0 points, 4.0 assists and 3.4 rebounds with shooting splits of 49/40/88. He has started all 45 games he’s played in for the Sixers. He’s 31.
- Drummond, a 6’10” power forward, has had a checkered NBA career but is one of the game’s leading rebounders. His career rebounding average is 10th best all-time. As Joel Embiid’s back-up, Drummond is averaging 6.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists with shooting splits of 54/12/47. He’s 28.
And here are additional details on the picks the Nets acquired, per Woj.
The Nets will receive the Sixers’ 2022 first-round pick unprotected with a right to defer until 2023 and a 2027 first-round pick protected from draft slots 1-to-8. The 2027 pick would roll over to 2028 protected Nos. 1-to-8 again., and turns into two seconds and $2 million in 2029..
The Nets reportedly also were pursuing other deals right up to the 3 p.m. ET deadline, but in the end, one trade was enough. The question now is how much the newly reconstituted Nets with only six players left from last year’s playoff team, can deal with the East’s top clubs: the Bucks, Bulls, Heat, Cavaliers ... and Sixers.
The Nets play the 76ers in Philadelphia on March 10.
- Brooklyn Nets trade James Harden to Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, sources say - ESPN
- NBA trade grades: Risks, rewards and implications of the massive James Harden-Ben Simmons deal - Kevin Pelton - ESPN+
- NBA trade deadline 2022: Winners and losers from a wild deadline, including where Ben Simmons and James Harden check in - Kevin Pelton - ESPN+
- NBA trade deadline 2022: Joel Embiid among players to react to the James Harden-Ben Simmons trade - ESPN
- Inside the tense negotiations that led to a James Harden-Ben Simmons superstar swap - Ramona Shelburne - ESPN
- Nets finalizing trade to send James Harden to 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, 2 first-round picks: Sources - Shams Charania - The Athletic
- James Harden, Ben Simmons highlight 76ers-Nets mega-trade: Instant grades and reaction - Zach Harper - The Athletic
- Kyrie Irving’s role in James Harden trade, and is Zion Williamson the next big name to move?: Trade deadline first thoughts - Joe Vardon - The Athletic
- Nets trade James Harden to the Sixers for Ben Simmons; now there’s a new big three with a new set of questions - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- Hollinger’s NBA trade deadline awards: Sizing up Simmons-Harden deal, plus the best, worst and surprises - John Hollinger - The Athletic
- Can Ben Simmons unlock his inner Draymond Green? How will James Harden fit next to Joel Embiid? - Sam Vecenie - The Athletic
- The cautionary tale of James Harden getting what ‘The Beard’ wants, nicks and all - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- Nets discuss departure of James Harden, trade for Ben Simmons and fit after 10th straight loss - Alex Schiffer - The Athletic
- The Sixers acquire James Harden in a deadline-day trade and end the Ben Simmons saga - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Nets’ James Harden Traded to Sixers for Ben Simmons - Sopan Deb & Tania Ganguili - New York Times
- The cautionary tale of James Harden getting what ‘The Beard’ wants, nicks and all - Sopan Deb - New York Times
- With Harden-Simmons swap, Nets make a move Lakers didn’t - Brian Mahoney - AP
- All-Star Swap: 76ers send Simmons to Brooklyn for Harden - Dan Gelston & Brian Mahoney - AP
- Nets send Harden to 76ers in blockbuster trade for Simmons-report - Larry Fleisher - Reuters
- Nets make blockbuster trade with 76ers - Bob Lorenz & Frank Isola - YES Network
- Michael Grady breaks down James Harden trade (Video) - Michael Grady - YES Network
- James Harden traded for Ben Simmons in Nets-76ers blockbuster - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- It’s all up to Ben Simmons now after Nets failed with James Harden - Mike Vaccaro - New York Post
- Ben Simmons already ‘on the same page’ with Kevin Durant after Nets trade - Jenna Lemoncelli - New York Post
- Kevin Durant refuses to take James Harden in All-Star draft after 76ers trade - Ryan Glasspiegel - New York Post
- What Ben Simmons will bring to the Nets: The pros and cons - Brian Lewis - New York Post
- James Harden looked at Kyrie Irving ‘like he had three heads’ before Nets trade - Ethan Sears - New York Post
- James Harden traded from Nets to 76ers for package that includes Ben Simmons, source confirms - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- Ben Simmons gets a fresh start with Nets - Barbara Barker - Newsday
- 5 takeaways as the Nets send James Harden to the 76ers in trade deadline blockbuster - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Nets trading James Harden to 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and draft picks: report - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Kevin Durant: ‘Everyone got what they wanted’ in James Harden trade - Kristian Winfield - New York Daily News
- Breaking down Ben Simmons’ fit with Nets after blockbuster trade - David Vertsberger - SNY
- Nets’ Kevin Durant weighs in on James Harden-Ben Simmons trade: ‘I think everybody got what they wanted’ - Alex Smith - SNY
- JAMES HARDEN-BEN SIMMONS TRADE: INSIDE STORY BEHIND THE DEAL - Yaron Weitzman - FOX Sports
- Sixers trade for James Harden; Ben Simmons dealt to Nets - Paul Hudrick - Liberty Ballers