The 2022 NBA trade deadline had so far been fairly uneventful until just about two hours until it passed, as the Sixers and Nets have reportedly agreed to a massive blockbuster deal to send James Harden to Philadelphia and Ben Simmons to Brooklyn.
Well, that and a whole lot else. The trade, according to ESPN, will also include Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first round picks going to the Nets and Paul Millsap off to the Sixers.
At first glance, it looks like a potentially huge upgrade for both teams. Harden wasn't happy in Brooklyn and in return the Nets got one of the best defensive players in the game in Simmons (who wasn't happy in Philly), plus two quality rotation players and two first round picks. There are a bunch of protections on the picks, but given Harden's age (32) they will certainly be worth revisiting down the road.
Simmons' defense and passing should perfectly complement the scoring of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving (half the time, at least, due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and his vaccination status). He's also younger, which could help Brooklyn extend their window of contention.
The Sixers, meanwhile, get in Harden an ideal scoring guard to create an inside-outside combination with superstar center Joel Embiid. They now have two players who can score at all three levels, one as a primary ball-handler and the other at the five. And Harden's shortcomings on the other end will be helped by the fact he's joining a top-10 defense with Embiid, one of the game's best rim-protectors.
The Sixers and Nets both appear to have strengthened their chances at winning a championship this season and beyond. That will make the Eastern Conference tougher for everyone else.
There is another domino effect as it pertains to the Washington Wizards. Philly was among the best fits for Bradley Beal, if he chose to leave this summer either by free agency outright or in a sign-and-trade deal. Now, that appears to be off the table. They have Harden and will in all likelihood sign him to a long-term contract.
Beal would still have plenty of suitors, including other contending teams. But it's worth noting as the possibility to team up with Embiid seems to no longer be there.
These are just some of the layers to this trade, which is so big it will send shockwaves across the league. The NBA just got even more interesting.