The James Harden sweepstakes have finally concluded on Wednesday. Months after demanding a trade and constantly making it obvious he no longer wants to play for the Houston Rockets, Harden now finds himself as a member of the Brooklyn Nets.
For Harden, that's great news considering he had the Nets somewhere at the top of his list of desired landing spots. However, the Philadelphia 76ers seem to be a close second. Ever since former Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey joined Philly's front office, Harden has been linked to the 76ers.
While the Rockets were open to talking shop with the Sixers, they weren't willing to send Harden packing to the City of Brotherly Love unless the two-time All-Star Ben Simmons was involved. Simmons, the former first-overall pick, has been a cornerstone player for the Sixers franchise over the last few seasons.
The Sixers haven't been actively looking to move on from Simmons, but many reports have indicated that the Philly was willing to include him in a reasonable package to land Harden. The rumors have been going around for at least a month now, and they've gotten louder on Wednesday as Harden's days were clearly numbered.
Ever since the Simmons-Harden rumors started, the fourth-year guard claimed it didn't affect him. However, after hearing he won't be dealt in a deal for Harden, after all, Ben Simmons is reportedly "ecstatic" to remain where he's at, according to ESPN's Marc Spears.
"Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden," Spears wrote via Twitter. "[He] believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star."
Before the Sixers got hit hard with the effects of COVID-19 late last week, Simmons and the Sixers were on a roll as they topped the NBA with the best record when healthy. Although their progress dipped a bit as of late, Philly is hopeful everything will click once again when they get back to full strength.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_