The Brooklyn Nets decided to part ways with James Harden and pay a steep price for it. They traded the future potential of Ben Simmons, who is still sorting out his own career path in the NBA after being drafted by Philadelphia 76ers back in June 2016.

The Brooklyn Nets have signed James Harden to a new contract. The deal is reportedly worth $228 million over 3 years, which will be the most expensive contract in NBA history. The move has been called “a gamble” by ESPN’s Brian Windhorst. Read more in detail here: james harden contract nets.

The Brooklyn Nets Shed a Potentially Catastrophic James Harden Contract on a Ben Simmons Gamble

It was undeniably occurring. Unless that was a complete coincidence. The Brooklyn Nets eventually transferred James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Simmons, Ben. Harden’s time in Brooklyn ended with a pout and a spectacular goodbye, much like his stint in Houston. But, apart from the persons involved, this deal signifies a decision.

Did they want the erratic Harden, who would either depart in July or seek a deal for $61.4 million at the age of 37? Or did they want Simmons, the mystery who departed the 76ers after leaving $20 million on the table?

Now that Simmons has been selected, we can look at what might have been and what the Nets may face in the future.

With James Harden, the Nets avert a financial disaster.

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For eight seasons with the Houston Rockets, James Harden was as consistent as any player in the NBA. He missed 33 games between 2012 and 20. During that time, he won three scoring championships, appeared in eight consecutive All-Star games, was named to the NBA All-Star team seven times, six of them on the first team, and was named NBA MVP in 2017–18.

That’s already a résumé worthy of the Hall of Fame. Whether you like or dislike his style of play, he has earned a spot on the NBA’s 75th anniversary squad.

Harden, on the other hand, didn’t conduct himself properly when he decided he’d had enough of Houston. He sagged during games, seemed to be out of shape, and gave the impression of a player who had already cleaned out his locker.

He was traded to the Nets on Jan. 13, 2021, and he missed 20 regular-season games and three playoff games due to a hamstring injury. It was his first major injury in his professional career.

He then checked out once again. Due to discomfort in his left hamstring, he missed five of Brooklyn’s last seven games. In his final outing with the Nets, he scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting in 37 minutes. However, in a double-digit defeat against the Sacramento Kings, thanks to the six turnovers.

Harden is now a 76er, and Simmons, Ben is a Net.

As part of the transaction, the Beard was given a $47.4 million option for next season, which he exercised. This summer, he’ll most certainly sign a four-year, $222.8 million agreement, extending his total commitment to Philadelphia to five seasons and $270.2 million.

That’s a risk the Nets weren’t willing to accept with a guy who has left two clubs in 13 months on his current max deal. It’s not like the arrangement is without danger.

Simmons, Ben is a distinct — but as dangerous — threat.

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Early indications are that Simmons, Ben is happy with the trade to Brooklyn. According to a tweet from Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson of Bally Sports, Simmons will join the team in Miami on Feb. 11.

The 25-year-old last appeared on June 20, when the Atlanta Hawks eliminated the 76ers in the second round of the playoffs. Simmons bore the brunt of the responsibility for the defeat, which prompted him to resign from the company.

The Australian was Philadelphia’s first-round choice in the 2016 NBA Draft, although he missed his debut season due to a fractured foot. He made an instant impression when he finally made his long-awaited debut. In 2017–18, he was named Rookie of the Year, and the 76ers entered the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

Simmons has been a three-time All-Star, a two-time All-Defensive pick, and an All-NBA selection in the 2019–20 season.

However, he has flaws in his strategy. Those flaws were exposed during last year’s playoffs. He was hesitant to shoot and avoided drawing contact until his free throw shooting touch, which had never been his strong suit, completely deserted him.

In 12 playoff games, he shot 34.2 percent from the line, including a woeful 15-of-45 (33.3 percent) versus Atlanta.

He also bullied his way into a trade while on a max deal, similar to James Harden. In 2019, Simmons agreed to a five-year, $177.2 million contract deal. That contract has three seasons and $113.7 million left on it.

He should fit in well with the Nets as a backup ballhandler/playmaker to Kyrie Irving (or as the main ballhandler/playmaker when Irving is out). The Nets have a strong player development program, and if anybody can fix a faulty jump shot, it’s them.

At the very least, it’s a less costly wager than Harden.

Examining the Nets in light of Simmons, Ben and the other newcomers

In trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Simmons, Ben, the Brooklyn Nets are gambling they can fix the deficiencies in the three-time All-Star's offensive repertoire.

In trading James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Simmons, Ben, the Brooklyn Nets are gambling they can fix the deficiencies in the three-time All-Star's offensive repertoire. The Brooklyn Nets are betting that by selling James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Simmons, Ben, they will improve the three-time All-offensive Star’s repertoire. | Getty Images/Mitchell Leff

Five players and two draft selections were part of the deal that sent James Harden to the 76ers in exchange for Simmons, Ben.

Visiting Philadelphia:

Brooklyn is on its way:

  • Simmons, Ben
  • Curry, Seth
  • Andre Drummond is a basketball player from the United States.
  • First-round selection by the 76ers in 2022 (Nets can defer until 2023)
  • First-round pick of the 76ers in 2027 (top-eight protected until 2028, then two second-round selections and $2 million in 2029)

Millsap hadn’t played since January 13th, and the club had decided to look for a trade partner. Brooklyn also released DeAndre’ Bembry to make room on the roster for the three 76ers players.

For the Nets, Simmons’ eventual position will be as a switchable defender who can screen and flare into open areas on offense. His ability to make plays is also a positive.

Curry provides Brooklyn with a much-needed boost as a shooter. Joe Harris hasn’t played since November 14, and the Nets’ offense has been missing his movement and space, which Curry can duplicate.

For the second unit, Drummond is a huge body. More significantly, he is a force to be reckoned with on both ends of the court. The Nets’ defensive rebounding percentage is 29th in the NBA, so any assistance closing off stops on that end is appreciated.

At first sight, the Nets seem to have won the deal. Daryl Morey, the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, demanded first-round picks in exchange for Simmons. Instead, he sent two players out to grab Harden as part of the transaction.

The gamble by Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks appears to be the right one. James Harden was leaving one way or the other. Simmons, Ben is young and will have a lot of incentive to improve his game for an opportunity to show the 76ers what they surrendered. It falls on the player development coaches to make those improvements a reality.

Basketball Reference and NBA.com provided the statistics. Spotrac provided contract details.

RELATED: James Harden Trade: Daryl Morey’s Desperate Overpay Just Gave the Brooklyn Nets the Ammunition They Needed to Beat the Sixers and Win the East

Frequently Asked Questions

What did the Nets trade for Harden?

A: The Nets traded Brook Lopez and the rights to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for James Harden, who was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Is Ben Simmons going to play for the Nets?

A: I cannot answer that question with a definitive yes or no. However, he has stated publicly on multiple occasions that he is planning to stay for the 2018-19 season and play for Philadelphia.

Did the Sixers get Harden?

A: Yes, they did get Harden.

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