Winners and Losers: James Harden for Ben Simmons Trade

In arguably the most memorable “problem for problem” deadline deal ever, the Sixers went out and acquired James Harden in exchange for Ben Simmons.

James Harden Nets Sixers 2021
Image via USA Today Sports/Bill Streicher

Oct 22, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) controls the ball against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

James Harden Nets Sixers 2021

The deal nobody was sure was actually going to happen heading into Thursday’s NBA trade deadline mercifully happened. And there’s a lot to unpack.

In arguably the most memorable “problem for problem” deadline deal ever, the Sixers went out and acquired James Harden (and Paul Millsap) from the Nets in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and a couple of future first-round picks. Amid a flurry of activity before the deadline, this is the deal that stands above all others, since the Simmons era in Philadelphia, and Harden’s brief Brooklyn sojourn, ended in such spectacularly dramatic fashion.

After handing out grades for the trade—along with all the other significant transactions that went down around the Association throughout the week—we need to take a step back and look at all the layers involved in the deal between Atlantic Division rivals.

As we do for all the major trades, it’s time to declare winners and losers after taking some time to digest the swap. Away we go.

Winner: Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons 76er Logo 2021

Loser: NBA Insiders

No one could properly peg if this trade was going down until it actually did early Thursday afternoon. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski gets credit for breaking the news, but if you were following the rumors (approximately 3,453,304 of them circulated over the past month), it became dizzying trying to decipher what to believe and what to dismiss. At times the trade felt inevitable. Other times it sounded there was a snowball’s chance in hell it was going down. Reporting about trades is always filled with smoke screens and nonsense—everybody has “sources”—but considering the names and franchises involved, I’m ultimately surprised so many struggled to extract the proper intel until Woj dropped his bomb on Twitter. 

Winner: James Harden

James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets

Loser: Daryl Morey

Daryl Morey NBA Bubble 2020

Winner: Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid

The center, who’s playing like an MVP, has to be incredibly hyped that the Philly front office fortified the roster and brought in a legendary scorer who won’t hesitate to shoot or go to the basket when it really matters. Embiid now has a running mate in Harden unlike any he’s ever played with, and we all know that in today’s game you need at least two All-Stars to seriously contend for a title. The Sixers have ’em, and instead of wasting one of the best seasons we’ll ever seen from a center by holding on to Simmons, they got bold and gave the big man a potent offensive weapon. Plus, Embiid continues to be a master troll on social media.

— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) February 10, 2022

Loser: Tyrese Maxey

Tyrese Maxey Sixers Grizzlies 2022

Winner: NBA fans

76ers Fan Sixers Celtics 2021

Loser: James Harden Nets jersey owners

James Harden Complaining Nets 2021

Winner: Meek Mill

Meek Mill Courtside Barclays Center 2021

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