The Ben Simmons saga continues.

If you placed a bet that 76ers guard Ben Simmons would be traded to the Kings, who had the second-best odds at +400 odds heading into this season, well, we’ve got bad news for you. (Note: Minnesota had the best odds at +300.)

While Sacramento has been active in trade talks recently, the franchise doesn’t want to move guards De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. In a report released Wednesday, Charania revealed that Kings bosses spoke with Fox and his agent, Chris Gaston of Family First Sports, and told them the organization wants to “center the team around” Fox and Haliburton.

MORE: Warriors, Lakers among most interesting teams ahead of NBA trade deadline

If the Kings really aren’t interested in trading Fox or Haliburton before the Feb. 10 trade deadline (there are always a lot of smokescreens to navigate this part of the NBA schedule), then their goal of acquiring Simmons would be much more challenging. .

Sacramento’s interest in the three-time All-Star is well-documented, but Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hasn’t backed down from his high asking price. Fox or Haliburton would be the centerpiece of any hypothetical Simmons deal between the 76ers and Kings, so it looks like Sacramento is off the table as a Simmons landing spot, unless the front office changes its stance or involves a third team. Morey doesn’t seem interested in taking on some role players and NBA Draft picks when he’s already held out for so long.

Who else could the Kings trade with?

The Kings could hypothetically buy Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, Richaun Holmes or Harrison Barnes in a deal to balance the money it would take to acquire Simmons.

  • Bagley III has a contract that expires at $11.3 million.
  • Hield signed a four-year, $94 million contract extension in 2019 and is set to earn $22.4 million this season.
  • Barnes also signed a four-year, $85 million deal in 2019.
  • Holmes signed a four-year, $46.5 million deal last offseason and has a 15 percent kicker trade attached to his deal, so moving him seems unlikely.
  • Simmons signed a four-year, $169.5 million extension in 2019 and is on the books for $31.6 million this season, which comes to $38.6 million at the end of the contract.

(Also, it’s worth noting that the Kings don’t want Tobias Harris back as part of a Simmons deal, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic. The Sixers have reportedly been trying to link Harris to some Simmons trades, but his massive contract will be a major roadblock in any discussion.)

Now what?

Simmons will be the biggest name to watch as the trade deadline approaches, but it’s possible he’ll remain on Philadelphia’s roster until the end of the season. In a recent newsletter, NBA insider Marc Stein explained why Morey might pause a Simmons trade until the summer:

Perhaps he’s also bought into a concept that executives with a growing number of rival teams say they see as Morey’s new preferred scenario: keeping Simmons past the trade deadline to exhaust every last chance to execute a tricky sign-and-trade deal in the offseason. that ultimately leads James Harden to Philly and directs Simmons to Brooklyn.

Complicated is a polite description for such a deal, as the Sixers would have a hard time accepting Harden via sign-and-trade and thus would have to lose more salary than just Simmons’ contract under the rules. league luxury tax to make it work financially. However, it should be noted that there is enough noise circulating around the league about Harden’s reported opening to relocation this summer, after he turned down a lucrative extension from the Nets in October, to give Morey the encouragement he needs to expect.

Harden is obviously on a different level than Fox or Haliburton, and would raise the Sixers’ ceiling significantly. But pursuing it also brings a different set of challenges and questions.

Is Harden really available? Can the 76ers figure out how to build that trade? Are they willing to take a big zero off Simmons’ roster spot while Joel Embiid performs at an MVP level right now?

Yes, the saga continues.