Trade for NBA’s most disgruntled star is imminent — and could be ‘headlined by Simmons’

James Harden’s frustrations with the situation at the Houston Rockets have reached a tipping point and a trade could happen today… involving Ben Simmons.

It is hardly breaking news that Harden wants out of the Rockets but until yesterday, he had never been so public on the issue.

Then, after Houston’s 117-100 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, Harden made a stunning declaration.

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“I love this city,” Harden said. “I literally have done everything that I can. The situation is crazy, it’s something that I don’t think can be fixed. So, yeah. Thanks.”

Naturally, the next question that started being asked was whether this meant a trade was finally about to happen.

According to the New York Times’ Marc Stein it could be as soon as today and involve Sixers star Simmons.

“The Rockets are pursuing a trade package from the 76ers that would be headlined by Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey, league sources say,” he tweeted.

“Houston is increasingly determined to complete a James Harden trade as soon as today, league sources say, and has chased the promising Maxey in addition to Simmons. Philly is known to covet Houston’s PJ Tucker in addition to Harden while the Nets have also remained in pursuit.”

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Simmons has been linked to a trade swap with Harden prior but the Sixers have rubbished those claims, insisting he is an important part of their future.

Simmons has impressed in certain aspects of his game to start the 2020-21 season, especially on the defensive end of the floor as usual but has also become better at dishing the ball out and creating for others.

As for scoring himself and being aggressive, it is still a work in progress for Simmons who sometimes can get inside his head looking for passes instead of backing himself to take it to the rim.

That is not a problem you would get with Harden, who was averaging 37 points and 11 assists from the first three games of the season before his form dropped off.

A new start away from the turbulent environment at Houston should see him return to his offensive best, even if it does take a bit of time for him to adapt to a new line-up.

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on the First Take that the ball is in Philly’s court.

“The bottom line is, James Harden wants out, he wants out by any means necessary,” he said.

“He wants to go to Philly for what I’m being told, even more so than Brooklyn now obviously Daryl Morey would have something to do with that.

“I don’t know if they have the assets they’re willing to give up to get James Harden, because I think it would take a Ben Simmons a couple of picks maybe another player in order to get James Harden from Houston and I don’t see Philly doing that, but Daryl Morey is there, even though Doc Rivers has some say to along with Elton Brand, so you just never know.”

The Brooklyn Nets are the other obvious option available.

The report from The Athletic claims that Brooklyn are willing to offer all of their four first-round picks and three future pick swaps as part of a package for Harden.

However, a league executive also told The Athletic’sJoe Vardon that if a trade happens between Houston and Brooklyn, it “would have to be centered around Harden and Kyrie.”

FS1’s Nick Wright added that “legitimate movement on the Harden front”, tweeting that the Nets are open trading anyone besides Kevin Durant.

“If Houston demanded Kyrie, they could have him, but the belief is Houston isn’t interested in Kyrie. BK trying to get a 3rd team involved to potentially enhance Houston’s return. Would have a Big 3 of KD, Harden & Kyrie but very little else, no depth & no future picks.”

Irving signed a four-year, $141 million ($A200m) deal with the Nets in 2019 and has been absent from four-straight Brooklyn games.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added that talks with the Sixers and Nets were getting stronger even before Harden’s very telling news conference.

Harden was a no-show at Rockets training on Thursday [AEDT] with coach Stephen Silas adding: “We felt it was best for the group and best for James not to come to practice” per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

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