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A timeline of the Ben Simmons-James Harden trade, from start to finish

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The blockbuster trade everyone's been theorizing about finally happened. Ben Simmons and James Harden (along with a number of other players) have switched teams, marking the end of an era for both the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets. For the Sixers, the Simmons saga has finally, finally, at long last concluded. For the Nets, the incredibly brief "reign" of the Big Three is over.

Here's a full timeline of the trade, from the start until the moment it all went down.

Fall 2020

Harden is visibly dissatisfied with the Houston Rockets. He fails to show up for training camp on time, and posts on Instagram showing he was partying hard in Vegas. At one point, current Sixers general manager Daryl Morey (who had recently been GM of the Rockets) reportedly makes a trade proposal to the Rockets to bring Harden to Philly and ship Simmons off to Houston. The deal doesn't go down, and Simmons reportedly feels betrayed by being included in this trade.

January 14, 2021

Harden, who had reportedly requested a trade from the flailing Rockets, finally gets his wish. He's traded to the Nets in a four-team deal, kicking off the Big Three era in Brooklyn with him, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Everything was solved and would be great forever, right?

June 20, 2021

Sixers lose Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals to the Atlanta Hawks. At one point in the second half, Simmons passes up a wide open 3-pointer — another example of his discomfort and lack of confidence with shooting threes. Following the game, superstar Joel Embiid doesn't directly call out Simmons, but says that moment in the game was a turning point. Head coach Doc Rivers also makes comments about Simmons following the game.

Simmons heard these comments, and apparently let them fester like an open wound bathed in mud.

Summer 2021

Simmons, reportedly upset by the comments made after the game, heads back to California and cuts off all contact with the team. He reportedly ignores calls and texts from Rivers, Embiid and multiple teammates who were offering to fly out to California and talk with him. According to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne, Simmons felt that Rivers could have tried harder to connect with him or come see him, despite not answering any of his calls or texts or showing any indication that he wanted to see or talk to Rivers or anyone even remotely related to the Sixers.

Ben Simmons didn't play a single game for the Sixers this season. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)
Ben Simmons didn't play a single game for the Sixers this season. (Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports)

July 2021

Morey reportedly opens up trade discussions for Simmons, likely because the relationship had deteriorated so sharply. He reportedly makes outlandish offers to the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, which both teams quickly walked away from, presumably while laughing.

August 31, 2021

Simmons reportedly requests a trade from the Sixers. Morey, Rivers and other Sixers execs reportedly try to convince Simmons to stay, but he's not buying it and won't be swayed. Simmons is prepared to skip training camp and intends to never play another game for the Sixers again, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

October 11, 2021

Simmons, who hadn't shown up to training camp and had already been fined by the team for missing a preseason game, surprises both fans and Sixers' brass by showing up unannounced at the team arena to take his required COVID-19 test. No one knew he was coming. Simmons being in Philly was a positive development, but he reportedly hadn't changed his mind about anything else.

October 12, 2021

Nets announce that Kyrie Irving, who has chosen to remain unvaccinated against COVID-19, won't play until his vaccination status is resolved. New York regulations prevent him from playing any home games, but the Nets eventually decide that Irving can play away games. The Big Three is down to the big two and a half.

October 18, 2021

Harden declined to sign a three-year, $161 million contract extension with the Nets. Despite that decision, Harden said the next day, "I don't plan on leaving this organization," and "I love it here," sentiments that were sure to never, ever change. This decision would have allowed him to opt into a $47.4 million contract with the Nets for 2022-23 and sign a four-year, $223 million extension when free agency begins next summer.

The Sixers are James Harden's third team in 13 months. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Sixers are James Harden's third team in 13 months. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

October 19, 2021

Simmons is scheduled to talk to the media for the first time since Game 7, but instead Rivers throws him out of practice for being a "distraction" and his media session is canceled. In the following days, Simmons puts his $5 million New Jersey home on the market and is suspended for the first game of the season.

October 22, 2021

Simmons reportedly tells the team that he's "not mentally ready" to play. The Sixers stop fining him for missing practices and games. Embiid is publicly supportive of Simmons. But in the coming weeks, more friction would develop between Simmons and the team. Simmons reportedly refused to see a team therapist and instead went to see someone he chose, but he would not give the team any updates on his progress. He continued to not play, reportedly content to sit out the entire season if the Sixers couldn't trade him, and the team eventually resumed fining him for missing team activities. As of Feb. 1, the Sixers had fined him over $19 million.

January 15, 2022

Durant suffers a sprained MCL in a game against the New Orleans Pelicans. The Nets give an update several days later, but decline to say when Durant might return. Woj reported the Nets are optimistic he could be back in four-to-six weeks. The Big Three is now down to the big one and a half — Harden and a part-time Irving.

January 25, 2022

Word of Harden's growing dissatisfaction with the Nets starts to bubble up. Sources close to Harden said he's open to exploring "opportunities outside of Brooklyn this summer." He's reportedly "disappointed" with Nets head coach Steve Nash's late-game strategies, and frustrated that Irving is only playing part-time due to his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

February 6, 2022

Nash tells the media the Nets aren't trading Harden. However, Harden begins missing games due to a hamstring injury, leading to speculation that he's sending a message to the Nets. That message is presumably "trade me, I don't want to be here anymore."

February 10, 2022

8:30 a.m. ET: On the day of the trade deadline, Woj reports Harden wants to be traded to the Sixers, but won't formally request one due to the possible backlash. (He did request a trade from the Rockets barely a year ago, after all.)

12:46 p.m. ET: Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes reports the Nets and Sixers were engaged in Harden trade talks earlier in the day.

1:16 p.m. ET: The trade finally goes down. Simmons is now a member of the Nets, and Harden is with the Sixers. Old sagas end, and new sagas begin. The cycle of basketball continues.