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NBA trade deadline: Sixers expected to pursue James Harden-for-Ben Simmons swap with Nets, per report

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One of the most-discussed hypothetical trades in the NBA may actually come to fruition, and sooner than expected.

With the NBA's Feb. 10 trade deadline less than a week away, the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to pursue a James Harden-for-Ben Simmons deal with the Brooklyn Nets, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania.

The Nets are reportedly believed to be open to such a deal, and it's expected the two teams will have a dialogue this week. Charania mentions Sixers role players Seth Curry, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle as potential additions to a trade.

James Harden for Ben Simmons trade makes plenty of sense

It's been known for months Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia. He has made that very clear, and incurred great personal expense in doing so. The trickier part has been any sort of trade partner that can meet the Sixers' reportedly high asking price.

The Nets were one of the teams thought by observers to be a potential partner, but with Kyrie Irving suggested as the potential star on the move due to his COVID-19 vaccine situation. That speculation has died down since Irving returned to the court in a road games-only capacity, but now there is plenty of talk about a Harden trade, as well.

Harden was reported late last month to be interested in pursuing opportunities outside of Brooklyn for a number of reasons, including frustration with head coach Steve Nash, the Irving situation and his own living situation in New York. Charania also reported there are "growing concerns" over Harden's hyper-ball-dominant playing style not meshing with Kevin Durant and Irving's approach, though it's worth noting the trio are 13-3 when playing together.

Of course, Harden's lack of malleability has hardly been the only issue for the Nets, who have been missing Durant since Jan. 15, still can't play Irving at home, have Harden dealing with his own health issues and have lost six straight games. The team currently sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference at 29-22.

Could the Sixers trade Ben Simmons for James Harden before the NBA trade deadline? (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Could the Sixers trade Ben Simmons for James Harden before the NBA trade deadline? (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

In swapping Harden for Simmons, the Nets would get one of the top perimeter defenders in the NBA who is more than willing (some would say too willing, at times) to concede shots to Durant and Irving. It's easy to see why that could work in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, Harden would land on a team run by the architect of his best teams in Houston, current Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

There has been enough smoke around a Harden-Simmons deal that teams are already considering a request for the NBA to investigate if such a deal goes through in the offseason. Now, the deal could come months earlier than previously thought.