The drumbeat is getting louder.
As the trade deadline approaches, both Keith Pompey, 76ers beat writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst report that the Nets and Sixer spoke Tuesday about a trade centered on James Harden for Ben Simmons.
Pompey wrote early Wednesday...
Multiple sources said the Nets and Sixers engaged in trade discussions Tuesday and bickered over pieces to add to a potential deal.
ESPN’s Get Up, Windhorst went even further.
“The sides are absolutely talking, absolutely negotiating. [Tuesday], the 76ers were out looking for other moves. Talking to other teams about other moves. Moving players. Opening roster spots. Leading those teams to believe they were getting ready to make the other deal.
“They have swapped offers. Really right now, it’s about haggling the ancillary parts.”
NetsDaily has also been told the two sides are in “discussions” and Frank Isola of YES Network said post-game Tuesday that the two sides are “definitely talking.”
Windhorst said that what’s driving the talks is that Harden wants out of Brooklyn.
“I can’t tell you how much James Harden wants this. He is screaming in every way he possibly can ‘I don’t want to be here, get me out of here. That’s what has spurred this into being: James Harden’s basic feeling ‘I don’t want to be here anymore Get me out of here.’ just like he did in Houston.
“So what the real issue is here for the Nets, is not the consequences of making this deal, it’s the consequences of not making this deal. It’s the consequence of not making this deal. If they don’t do this trade, what is James Harden going to do the rest of this season, and of course what is he going to do when he becomes a free agent in the summer? That’s what has spurred this into being, James Harden’s basic feeling that I don’t want to be here anymore.”
But Windhorst’s colleague, Adrian Wojnarowski on ESPN Radio disputed the reports,
“Right now, there’s no negotiation going on between Philadelphia and Brooklyn...The idea that they are going back and forth that’s been surmised by some, I don’t believe that to be accurate.”
Here’s his full comments with Mike Greenberg...
As for the parameters of a trade, Pompey reported Wednesday afternoon that Matysse Thybulle, the Sixers’ young defensive ace, and Seth Curry, who is behind only Joe Harris in career 3-point shooting percentage among active players, have been discussed.
Multiple league sources have said that Thybulle’s name has been mentioned as part of a potential deal for James Harden ahead of Thursday’s 3 p.m. NBA trade deadline.
One source said Seth Curry and a first-round pick have been mentioned along with Thybulle. A person close the Sixers disputed the package centered around Simmons for Harden.
However, Pompey characterized the talks as “informal,” adding, “A source said as of Wednesday afternoon, a deal isn’t as close to being finalized as people think.”
He also reported that the Sixers engaged with the Oklahoma City Thunder in a back-up plan that would send Tobias Harris, their second best player, to Oklahoma City to free up cap space so that if the Nets don’t agree to trade Harden now, they’ll have enough to sign Harden in the summer.
Sources also confirmed that the Sixers have had conversations with the Oklahoma City Thunder about Tobias Harris. A person close to the Sixers downplayed the discussions, saying the Thunder are just one of several teams with available cap space that have inquired about taking in salary in exchange for draft picks.
Pompey admitted that negotiations with OKC — and other teams with space — may simply be a “ploy to put pressure on the Nets” to get a deal done now.
The Sixers are confident that they can get Harden this summer. But even being 100% confident might not justify what would be perceived as wasting one of Embiid’s prime seasons. The Sixers want to continue winning, and know Harris is vital to their success. So it would be hard to imagine them moving him to OKC this week.
That, he writes, would not be popular with Philly fans.
[T]rading Harris, the Sixers’ second-best player, during a season when Joel Embiid is putting up magical numbers would be a tough to sell in Philly. Not only is he their second-best player, but Harris is starting to find his groove and play at the high level he played at last season.
In the last seven games, Harris has averaged 22.4 points and 7 rebounds and a key piece in the Sixers title hopes. Pompey believes that if Harris were dispatched, the Sixers might also dump Simmons.
If that happens, some expect the Sixers will attempt to dump Simmons’ salary to another team that can take on his contract in exchange for assets around June’s draft.
After Tuesday’s trades, Pompey notes that OKC Thunder aren’t the only team with cap space who could help the 76ers. The Blazers, Pistons, Magic and Spurs all have plenty of cap space, as would the Rockets if they dump John Wall.
If all that sounds unlikely, Pompey admits it is and suggests that it may just be a negotiating tactic as the deadline — Thursday at 3 p.m. ET — gets closer. He also notes that if the Sixers want to gather cap space, they could just buy out Harris after the playoffs.
Pompey also contends that there is a “split” in the Brooklyn front office on what to do with Harden.
[S]ources say they’re split behind closed doors. Some want to get rid of him now, thinking that he’s quit on the team and is hurting the chemistry. Harden has publicly told his teammates, coaches and team personnel that he wants to stay in Brooklyn. However, word keeps leaking out that he wants to play for the Sixers.
Pompey did not detail the purported split. Of course, Steve Nash has now twice said that he does not expect Harden to be traded and that he expects the roster to remain basically the same and sources within the organization have told reporters the same thing over the past several days, insisting that they want to see how the team works once healthy.
Neither Pompey nor Windhorst guaranteed the deal would get done by Thursday.
“Does this mean it will absolutely get done by tomorrow? I can’t say that. I’m not sitting in the room. It’s complicated. They are in the deal zone right now. I am leaning towards this probably happening. I don’t want to guarantee it or anything, but I think we’re heading in that direction.”
Meanwhile, Keith Smith of RealGM and Spotrac reports other teams believe a deal will get done…
It sounds like rival teams think a deal between Brooklyn and Philadelphia may be getting close. One team told me "They've kind of put other talks on hold. If that deal finally happens, then the floodgates will open around the league for a lot more to happen."— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) February 9, 2022
- Will the Sixers trade Tobias Harris to the Thunder? Or is the chatter a ploy to put pressure on the Nets? - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Sources: Matisse Thybulle has been mentioned as part of a potential James Harden trade - Keith Pompey - Philadelphia Inquirer
- Nets, 76ers ‘In Deal Zone’ On James Harden For Ben Simmons Trade - RealGM