Blockbuster $321 million Ben Simmons trade shut down
It appears Ben Simmons won’t be traded before this week’s deadline after a rival slammed the door shut on a blockbuster move.
Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash has shut down rumours James Harden would be traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Ben Simmons.
Reports emerged last week Brooklyn was willing to enter into discussions with the Sixers about a potential Simmons-Harden trade before the mid-season deadline on Friday (AEDT).
Such a trade would have been an eye-watering one, with Simmons and Harden contracted for a combined US$227 million (A$321 million).
Arguably, both teams could have benefited from a trade. Prolific scorer Harden would provide support to Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, while Simmons would help shore up Brooklyn’s leaky defence.
But Nets coach Nash said there is no possibility his team will be trading Harden.
When asked to confirm Brooklyn would not trade Harden before the February 11 deadline, Nash responded: “Yes, that’s correct”.
“I’ve talked to James. He wants to be here, and he wants to be here long term as well,” Nash elaborated.
“So I don’t think anything’s changed other than noise from the outside.
“James wants to be here. We’re building with James and we think we have the best chance to win with James.
“So I don’t think anything’s changed on the inside in our locker room, in our communication. It’s just all the noise from the outside.
“I mean, this has been a constant thing since the summer.
“He’s continually reiterated that he wants to be here, and we’ve continually said that we want him here and that that’s our best chance to win.”
It now appears increasingly unlikely Simmons won’t be traded before the deadline, meaning he will likely miss the entire NBA season and look to move to another team in the offseason.
Reports last week indicated Simmons has already been fined A$26 million for refusing to play for the Sixers this season.
Brooklyn’s ‘Big Three’ of Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant have barely played together due to Irving’s unwillingness to get vaccinated, Harden’s hamstring issues and Durant currently on the sidelines with a knee injury.
The Nets suffered a 124-104 defeat to the Denver Nuggets on Monday, continuing their horror mid-season slump.
Brooklyn has now lost eight consecutive games and after falling to seventh spot in the congested Eastern Conference standings, risks having to go through the play-in tournament to make the playoffs.
However, Nash isn’t too concerned and said the Nets will be title contender once Harden, Durant and Irving are on the court together.
“We just want to be conservative with them so we don’t lose them for big stretches,” he said.
“We think when he’s (Harden) healthy and Kevin’s healthy and Kyrie plays, our team is a totally different team. And we’re excited by it.”
Harden is averaging 22.5 points, 10.2 assists and eight rebounds, but has missed games in Utah and Denver with a left hamstring issue.
“The scan is pretty good, but there’s a tightness and a strength deficit,” Nash said.
“So, for us, we just don’t want to take any chances. We know last year we lost him for an extended period, and we want to be conservative and make sure he resumes full strength so there isn’t an extended absence.
“It’s day-to-day, so hopefully. But it’s a matter of, does that strength get back to where we feel confident and he feels confident that we’re not risking anything? That’s what we’re dealing with right now.”
Originally published as Blockbuster $321 million Ben Simmons trade shut down