The NBA trade deadline is this Thursday, Feb. 10, and the conversation dujour is where will disgruntled Philadelphia 76ers player Ben Simmons wind up. Will he be traded for now seemingly unhappy Brooklyn Nets All-Star James Harden? FS1 talking head Nick Wright thinks a trade must happen if the Nets have any hope of winning a title. But the whole conversation is what’s wrong with the NBA.
“A James Harden-Ben Simmons trade is the only chance Brooklyn has at winning the east this year.”
"A James Harden-Ben Simmons trade is the only chance Brooklyn has at winning the East this year. At some point, the Nets have to stop being an NFT & they have to start being a basketball team. It's a move they absolutely should make." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/fl9w4uSJAs
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) February 7, 2022
The Philadelphia 76ers are 32-21, only two games out of first place in the East. Joel Embiid is playing like the MVP. He was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month in January. He averaged 34 points, 10.8 rebounds and five assists per game while leading the Sixers to a 12-3 record. He is fifth in the league in EPM at +6.9 and fifth in WS/48 at .262.
What he and the Sixers are doing is remarkable, but the talk dominating basketball media and the talking head shows is about a player that hasn’t played a single game all season. Everyone at home thinks they’re a general manager and is obsessed with trades.
At some point the play on the court has to matter.
The Memphis Grizzlies are a tremendous story right now. The second-youngest team in the league, has the third-best record and looks poised to make a playoff run. They are led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., two players they drafted and are developing along with most of their core. Why are people talking about who they should trade for to compete for a title this year?
The Denver Nuggets are 29-24 and sixth in the West. They are doing this without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., their second- and third-best players. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic is keeping them in the playoff race, and his impact is even greater this season. He might be a back-to-back MVP. Yet we’re discussing hypothetical trade scenarios.
Don’t get me wrong, trade talk is a way for fans to stay engaged. I enjoy thinking about potential basketball fits. But it can’t be more important than the games themselves. You tune in to see competition, not back-and-forth over salary caps, pick swaps, and cash considerations.
As to the reality of a Simmons-Harden deal, since we’re already here, a deal before the deadline seems unlikely. Nets general manager Sean Marks isn’t going to just take Simmons back in a deal. He’ll likely want Tyrese Maxey and picks or Seth Curry and Matisse Thybulle as well. Sixers President Daryl Morey may not want to give up Maxey or Curry in any deal.
If no deal is made by the deadline, the likeliest scenario is the offseason. If the Nets flame out of the playoffs and Harden remains unhappy, a sign-and-trade deal would work so he can make all the money he can under the collective bargaining agreement, and the Nets don’t let him walk for nothing.
There will be a lot of noise between now and Thursday, try to enjoy some of the games as well.
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