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Simmons, Harden, got what they wanted, not what they deserved

Feb 14, 2022 0 comments

James Harden and Ben Simmons aren't all that different afterall. For Philadelphia, trusting the process just wasn't in the cards as Simmons' clash with Joel Embid saw the relationship beyond salvaging.

Simmons was a reluctant scorer throughout his Sixers' tenure and became the scapegoat for last year's second round playoff exit against the Hawks. After refusing to report to the team, save a brief appearance at the team's practice facility a couple months back, Simmons cited mental health issues as the culprit for why he was unable to play.

Harden on the other hand, became increasingly frustrated with Kyrie Irving's part-time status, Kevin Durant being sidelined by a MCL sprain and a less than stellar supporting cast with the Nets, this after he forced his way out of Houston in January of 2021. Throughout the first half of the season, Harden looked to still be battling through the hamstring injury he suffered last year and fans didn't see him showing the same joy he did on the court in his first year with the Nets.

As the trade deadline drew closer, reports began to surface about Harden's frustration with the organization, being unhappy living in Brooklyn, among other concerns about his role in the offense and the team's handling of Irving's vaccine situation. Despite a Harden for Simmons swap being classified as nothing more than a juicy trade rumor initially, things really began to gain steam when Nets' GM Sean Marks and Harden had a phone conversation that all but affirmed all of the assertions in various reports about him being unhappy.

Things literally came down to the wire, but Sixers GM Daryl Morey reunited with his prized player in Houston by sending a disgruntled Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two future first round picks to Brooklyn for Harden and Paul Millsap.

When all the dust settled, Harden got what he wanted, to land in Philly with MVP candidate Embid and for Simmons to play with the best  player in the world in Durant along with a part-time but lethal scorer in Irving.

If you take both players at their word, Harden was truly too injured to play the week leading up to his ultimate trade and Simmons was dealing with legitimate mental health concerns.

Even if there's only an ounce of truth in both cases, both players quit on their respective clubs by seeking a change of scenery and  a complementary supporting cast to their skillsets.

It shouldn't come as a surprise in the star-driven league where players recruit and assemble superteams like playing ball in a park, but this is the state of affairs in the NBA.

Players can dictate terms to organizations and if they're willing to absorb the financial penalty, wait things out and ultimately get that they want. While this trade may benefit Philadelphia in the short-term and Brooklyn now and in the future, it sets a dangerous precedent for how unhappy players conduct themselves at the end of their time with an organization.


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