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For months, it’s been obvious the Philadelphia 76ers are willing to part ways with their absent three-time All-Star, Ben Simmons. While many reports have indicated the Sixers’ top priority is still getting Simmons back in the mix to play for them, his return is nowhere in sight.

“I don’t know,” Rivers said this week when asked about a potential Simmons return. “I don’t think so, but I don’t even know the answer. He does come to the facility, but I don’t know what that means right now. Hopefully, we’ll have an answer sooner than later.” 

Simmons still wants to be traded. The 76ers are willing to get something done but they remain firm on their asking price. When Simmons initially became available, Philly’s President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey made it clear to inquiring teams that a Simmons deal would have to include another All-Star caliber player.

Perhaps, there’s a loophole, though. Earlier this week, Sixers veteran forward Tobias Harris saw his name pop up in trade rumors. According to Brian Windhorst and Marc Spears of ESPN, the Sixers are interested in potentially moving both Simmons and Harris. 

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While moving Simmons and Harris could be a difficult task considering the money they both make individually, NBA reporter Marc Stein dishes out the idea that the Sacramento Kings could be “convinced” to get involved in that kind of deal to ensure they land Simmons as they grow desperate halfway through the 2021-2022 season.

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"I’ve heard Sacramento described by more than one rival team as the closest thing there is to a trade partner you could class as “favorites” to bring a resolution to the seemingly interminable Simmons standoff before the deadline (as things stand). Reason being: More than one rival team believes Sacramento, in its desire for a significant shakeup as it bumbles toward a record 16th consecutive season out of the playoffs, could be convinced to take on Tobias Harris’ contract to facilitate a Simmons deal. If the Sixers can’t get the top-flight player they covet, going ahead with a Simmons deal that enables them to shed the two years and nearly $80 million left on Harris’ contract after this season might be too enticing to resist rather than holding out for a star in return."

Harris has proven to be a great complement to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons on the floor. Without Simmons in the fold, though, Harris has oftentimes struggled to look like the All-Star hopeful player we saw a season ago.

Many teams would be fortunate to have Harris, who is a solid player and leader on and off the court. But his expensive contract makes front offices hesitant to put together a deal for him.

It seems the Sixers are open to exploring an alternative “win” in the Simmons saga by getting rid of the disgruntled star and getting Harris’ contract off the books. However, getting a deal done that includes Simmons and Harris will be a difficult task for the Sixers. 

Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.