by Eshaan Kapoor ’23
Published Apr. 7th, 2022
As the trade window closed on February 10th, 2022, NBA teams negotiated deals in the usual frenzied fashion, leaving fans shocked after a series of blockbuster deals. While players found new homes across the league, no trade was more colossal than the now-iconic James Harden deal that sent the former MVP to Philly alongside Paul Millsap, in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two early draft picks.
Considering the fact that Harden was dealt from Houston to Brooklyn in a blockbuster deal just one year earlier, the news of Harden’s unhappiness came as a surprise to many, as it disbanded Brooklyn’s original “big three” of Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant, a team that many saw winning multiple titles together.
After the aforementioned “big three” came to fruition, the trio disappointed many by playing just sixteen games together. Their chemistry was hindered by injuries to Durant and Harden, alongside Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get the Covid-19 vaccine limiting his presence, as the guard was not cleared to play in any Nets home games.
In January of this year, it was reported that Harden was not content with Irving and his decision to remain unvaccinated and play part-time. Harden had jokingly even said “I’m going to give him the shot” in a post-game interview.
Harden also has strong relationships with the 76ers organization. The team’s general manager, or GM, Daryl Morey, previously worked for the Houston Rockets under the same role, where he welcomed Harden into the organization and helped build a championship-contending team around him. In fact, “tampering” (illegally convincing rival players to join one’s team) concerns arose due to Harden’s ties with minority owner Michael Rubin and CEO Tad Brown.
It should not be a surprise then, that Harden wanted a trade. The Sixers have demonstrated good chemistry, and since their acquisition of Harden, have continued to dominate the Eastern Conference Standings. While Ben Simmons is yet to debut in Brooklyn, the Nets have found themselves with a solid season, and a potential playoff matchup with Philly. While the Sixers have seen more immediate impacts from the deal, fans will have to see how Simmons’ development and the Nets newfound draft capital will impact them in the future.