How does Thursday's jaw-dropping deal at the NBA trade deadline -- sending Brooklyn Nets star James Harden to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and two future first-round picks -- change the balance of power in the Eastern Conference?
A midseason deal between two conference rivals with championship aspirations is unprecedented in modern NBA history, and the implications are fascinating. Simmons will assuredly return to action after sitting out the entire 2021-22 season to date, while Harden is reunited with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who previously brought him to the Houston Rockets.
How well will Simmons fit in Brooklyn alongside Kevin Durant and (at least in road games) Kyrie Irving after his on-court career in Philadelphia ended in disappointing fashion? How much of a risk are the 76ers taking by trading for Harden before he's eligible to sign one of the largest contracts the league has ever seen? And what did the undercard of the trade struck hours before the NBA trade deadline say about which team was more motivated to make a deal?
Let's sort through the myriad considerations of the trade centered around Harden and Simmons.
Brooklyn Nets get: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, 2022 first-round pick (right to defer until 2023), 2027 first-round pick (top-8 protected)
Philadelphia 76ers get: James Harden, Paul Millsap