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DEAL ZONE: Nets get Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, two firsts for James Harden, Paul Millsap

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Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

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...

Yossi Gozlan of Hoopshype noted the big savings in luxury tax and the addition of another trade exception.

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.

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.