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Report: Daryl Morey Has One Major Target for Potential Ben Simmons Trade

76ers president Daryl Morey has made it very clear that he won't trade Ben Simmons, the team's inactive star, for anything less than a player who fit well alongside Joel Embiid and increase the franchise's odds to win a championship.

A new report from The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick on Monday backs up that notion. According to The Athletic, Morey's top target in a Simmons trade is not one he'll likely be able to secure ahead of the NBA trade deadline next month. Rather, he has his eyes on a reunion with James Harden, the former Rockets star now a core member of the Nets' Big Three.

Per The Athletic, the 76ers are believed to prefer to wait in order to pursue Harden or another superstar in the offseason and could want to save Simmons for that potential sign-and-trade instead of taking what’s available on the current market.

Coincidentally, it was Simmons who Philadelphia attempted to use to bring in Harden last year, before he was eventually traded to the Nets. Now, it could be Morey using Simmons as a potential trade piece with Brooklyn, should Harden elect to forego opting into his deal for next year, which is worth over $47 million.

Simmons could be a centerpiece in a deal that would require Philly to fork over players worth around $61–$65 million to make the contracts work, to bring back Harden, per The Athletic. 

During a radio interview last week, Morey, who left the Rockets ahead of the '20 season before taking over the 76ers front office, confirmed that the key in any deal involving Simmons is to enhance and optimize the team's championship window, even if that means waiting until the offseason for better deals to materialize.

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“It really is important that the player we add to Joel, if we really want to take our odds from wherever we’re at right now, to something materially higher, it has to come back in an impact player,” Morey said. “If you trade one of these great players for multiple, it does not move your championship odds enough to make a difference. It might take us from where we’re at now to a little bit better, but it’s very slightly better, and we want to—for Joel—we have to make sure we get this right and we move ourselves to a higher tier of ability to win a championship...

“We are looking for a deal that makes us a championship contender, in the top two or three in the league of winning a title. Those are the teams that win. If we do a deal that takes us from the eighth-best chance to win the championship to seventh, you’re looking at half a percent better. And everyone feels better because Ben Simmons, who people want gone, people will feel better that that name is no longer there, but our odds haven’t changed much at all, and now we’ve not just burned away this season, we’ve burned away our future as well.”

Last week, The Athletic also reported those around Simmons continue to insist that he’ll sit out the entire season if a deal isn’t done by the deadline. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix had previously reported the organization has conveyed to opposing teams that it isn't lowering the asking price for Simmons.

Simmons' agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul met with president of basketball  Morey and general manager Elton Brand in mid-January but the two sides came out of the meeting at a stalemate about how to proceed, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski

In 41 games for the Nets this season, Harden is averaging 22.7 points, 10.1 assists and eight rebounds on 41.9/33.8/86.7% shooting. His scoring output is the lowest of his career since 2011–12, his final year with the Thunder, his field goal percentage is his lowest since his rookie year in 2009–10, and his three-point percentage is the lowest of his career right now.

The NBA trade deadline is set for Feb. 10, at 3 p.m. ET.

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