In the latest Ben Simmons-free update, the 76ers look even more poised to hold on to the three-time All-Star until the Feb. 10 trade deadline.

According to a report by Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is happy to stick to the trade deadline as he “has his sights set” on orchestrating a deal. to acquire Nets superstar James Harden.

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Simmons, 25, hasn’t dressed for the 76ers this season after requesting a trade in the 2023 offseason. After informing the team in October, Simmons let the franchise know he’s not mentally ready to play for they.

Hoping to honor Simmons’ trade request, Morey and the Sixers have been active in the trade market, with teams like the Hawks, Hornets and Kings emerging as possible suitors. Morey, however, has maintained that there is a short list of players that he sees as part of an acceptable return for Simmons.

Morey, who has already said a deal is “less likely” to close before the deadline, has kept a high asking price for Simmons, and is only looking for players who will increase the Sixers’ chances of winning a title. of the NBA.

Harden enters.

This latest report indicates that Morey is willing to go a full season without Simmons, as he believes offers from teams like the Hawks, Hornets and Kings will still be up in the offseason and could be sweetened with more draft capital.

That said, while the aforementioned deals are likely still on the table, waiting until summer opens the door for the Sixers to make a move for a player like Harden, who could enter free agency by declining his option. player for 2023-23. season.

In October 2023, Harden opted not to sign an extension with the Nets, stating, “I don’t plan on leaving this organization and the situation that we have. So honestly, my focus is just to focus on the season and then win the championship. The contract and all of that will be confirmed, but my focus will be locked on this season.”

In their prime, the Nets looked like championship favorites, but injuries and the part-time availability of Kyrie Irving could threaten their ability to compete in 2023. A playoff deficiency could cause Harden to change course on plans to re-sign with the Nets. .

If he opts out of the final year of his contract, Harden would earn $46.3 million during the 2023-23 season.

If Harden has the desire to move on and reunite with Morey, with whom he experienced success in Houston, the Nets could orchestrate a deal in which they would receive Simmons in exchange for moving on and extending their title window. For what it’s worth, Simmons will earn $33.9 million in 2023-23.

According to the report, “if (the Sixers) can’t sign Harden, of course, they will continue to pursue the likes of Portland’s Damian Lillard, Washington’s Bradley Beal or Boston’s Jaylen Brown.”

In short: there are more chapters of the Ben Simmons saga to come.