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Report: 76ers not eager to trade for James Harden before deadline

James Harden and Ben Simmons Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - FEBRUARY 06: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers guards James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets during the third quarter at Wells Fargo Center on February 06, 2021 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

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The 76ers have failed to build traction on a Ben Simmons trade as Thursday’s trade deadline approaches. Possibilities are dwindling. Even Philadelphia team president Daryl Morey called a Ben Simmons trade before the trade deadline unlikely.

But a potential lifeline has emerged if the Nets are truly open to dealing James Harden – who’s reportedly frustrated in Brooklyn and can become a free agent this offseason – by Thursday.

Yet, the 76ers are showing reluctance.

Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice:

The idea that they should have to give up multiple valuable trade chips for a disgruntled player who could outright walk away from Brooklyn in the summer has already been mocked internally. If Harden is in danger of actively sabotaging what the Nets want to build, as Charania reports here, the Sixers don’t believe they should have to give up more than a multi-time All-Star in Simmons to get a deal done before February 10th.

The audacity.

Of all the posturing the 76ers have done through the media, this might be the most ludicrous.

Why trade for Harden now? Because Joel Embiid is playing like an MVP and has Philadelphia (31-21) within two games of first place in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers could win the 2022 championship with Embiid and Harden. There is massive value in acquiring Harden for the 2022 playoffs rather than waiting for the offseason.

Simmons would probably contribute zilch the rest of the season.

Philadelphia offered more than Simmons for Harden just over a year ago. Since, Simmons has faltered in the playoffs, been difficult to deal with and sat out – torpedoing his trade value. Though he’s showing signs of decline at age 32, Harden is still a (deserved) All-Star.

Another benefit of trading for Harden now: It wouldn’t trigger a hard cap for Philadelphia. A sign-and-trade in the summer would. Attempting to execute an opt-in-and-trade could trip tampering alarms.

A straight-up Simmons-Harden trade wouldn’t work salary-cap-wise. The 76ers must send out more salary. This report feels like their attempt to negotiate the additional terms.

But it’s tough to believe Philadelphia wouldn’t be elated with a trade that has the general framework of Simmons for Harden.