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Ben Simmons got his wish, a trade out of Philadelphia. The 76ers got their second superstar, with James Harden coming over in a blockbuster multiplayer trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

The Sixers sent Simmons, the disgruntled one-time franchise cornerstone, who demanded a trade last summer, guard Seth Curry and center Andre Drummond to the Nets in a deal for the bushy-bearded Harden.

The Sixers also will get Paul Millsap and the Nets get a 2022 first-round pick and a 2027 first-round pick.

The move came just five days after coach Steve Nash said the Nets wouldn’t trade Harden and only 13 months after they acquired the 2018 NBA MVP to play with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

‘The decision to trade James was a difficult one’

But Harden could have left this summer as a free agent and the Nets decided it wasn’t worth the risk to wait, ending their Big Three experiment after the trio played only 16 games together.

“The decision to trade James was a difficult one, however after recent discussions with him and his representatives we felt that this move would be best for all involved, as it better positions us to achieve our goals this season and in the years ahead,” Nets general manager Sean Marks said. “We appreciate everything that James has done for our organization both on and off the court.”

Simmons did not play this season for the Sixers in the wake of a trade demand centered largely around hurt feelings coming off last season’s playoff loss. Simmons averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over four seasons with Philadelphia, which drafted him out of LSU, where he played only one season.

Simmons made a surprise return to the Sixers shortly before the season opened, but was promptly kicked out of practice and suspended for one game. The punishment didn’t matter, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft had no intention of ever playing. He later cited mental health concerns.

Harden was set to miss his fourth straight game Thursday with a hamstring injury while trade rumors intensified. He has averaged 25.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists with Brooklyn, Houston and Oklahoma City.

The Nets acquired the three-time scoring champion from the Houston Rockets in a deal last January, with the idea that Harden, Durant and Irving would be too potent to stop. The Nets loaded up for a title run with three of the highest-paid players in the league but a championship run with them never materialized.

Harden and Irving were both hurt last year in the playoffs, and the Nets lost in the second round to eventual champion Milwaukee. With Irving not joining the Nets until December and Durant injured in January, the Nets got only two games out of their Big Three this season.

Mavs sending Porzingis to Wizards for 2 players

The Dallas Mavericks are sending Kristaps Porzingis to the Washington Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans, a person with knowledge of the trade said Thursday.

The deal was reached not long before the NBA trading deadline and ends the plan to pair Porzingis with fellow European and young Dallas star Luka Doncic. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the trade hasn’t been announced.

Porzingis has missed the past five games with a right knee injury and has been sidelined for 21 of 55 games this season because of various injuries and a positive COVID-19 test.

Doncic and Porzingis never established the bond the club hoped would develop when Dallas acquired Porzingis in a trade with the New York Knicks before the deadline in 2019.

At the time of the trade, Porzingis was still recovering from surgery for a torn ligament in his left knee not long after he was named an All-Star with the Knicks in 2018. He made his Dallas debut in 2019-20 but remained injury-prone in two-plus seasons with the Mavericks.

The 26-year-old Porzingis signed a $158 million, five-year contract with the Mavericks before ever playing for them. The 7-foot-3 Latvian averaged 20 points and 8.8 rebounds in 134 games with Dallas.

Dinwiddie started all 44 games he played for the Wizards this season, averaging 12.6 points and 5.8 assists. Although his career 3-point shooting percentage is just 32%, Dinwiddie gives Dallas another scoring option in the backcourt with Tim Hardaway Jr. likely sidelined until the playoffs with a broken foot.

Bertans started his career with Dallas rival San Antonio and was solid as a backup the previous two seasons in Washington. But the 6-10 Latvian’s playing time is way down this season, along with his scoring and rebounding averages.

Hornets acquire Montrezl Harrell from Wizards

The Charlotte Hornets have acquired power forward/center Montrezl Harrell from the Washington Wizards for veteran backup point guard Ish Smith, second-year forward Vernon Carey Jr. and a future second-round draft pick, said a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press Thursday because the deal has not been announced.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak has been looking to add a center who can score and defend for quite some time. Harrell is 6-foot-7, but has a 7-foot-4 wingspan and he’s expected to play both power forward and center.

Center Mason Plumlee was acquired this offseason to help bridge the gap after big men Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo were not retained as unrestricted free agents.

The 28-year-old Harrell is a Tarboro, North Carolina native and is averaging 14.1 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 46 games this season for the Wizards while shooting 64.5% from the field. During his seven years in the NBA, Harrell has averaged 13 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Harrell’s best season came in 2019 with the Los Angeles Clippers when he averaged a career-best 18.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game.

Smith has been Charlotte’s third-string point guard since joining the team this past offseason, playing behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. He has played in 37 games and averaged 4.5 points and 2.7 assists per game. He returns to the Wizards, where he spent the previous two seasons.

Carey, a former second-round pick, has played in 23 games during his career and is averaging 2.3 points per game.

Celtics send Dozier, Bol to Magic to cut salary

The Boston Celtics announced they’ve traded guard PJ Dozier and forward Bol Bol, along with a future second-round pick and cash to the Orlando Magic on Thursday in exchange for a protected 2023 second-round pick.

Dozier and Bol came to Boston in January from Denver as part of a three-team trade that also involved San Antonio. Neither has seen action for the Celtics. Dozier is out for the season following surgery for a torn ligament in his left knee. Bol is recovering from right foot surgery.

Boston entered the day about $3 million over the salary cap as the league’s trade deadline loomed. It was in danger of being hit with the “repeater tax” for being over the cap threshold in three out of four seasons. The 2021-22 salaries of Dozier ($1.9 million) and Bol ($2.1 million) will keep Boston from incurring that luxury tax penalty.

The Celtics (31-25) have won a season-high six straight games and are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

 


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