James Harden Nets
Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s go crazy, folks!

The NBA trade deadline is Thursday, and there has already been a flurry of action with some intriguing moves around the league.

The biggest rumor that continues to weigh on the Brooklyn Nets is the tie between James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers. The fact that Ben Simmons wants out of Philly makes a one-for-one superstar blockbuster too tempting for fans and media to ignore.

Brooklyn has said they won’t move Harden. But we’re seeing regularly that the mix on that roster isn’t working. As much as we love the idea of the Big Three making the Nets a championship team, they haven’t been able to be on the court together much, if at all.

So let’s take a long drag on something strong and throw a ridiculous blockbuster trade out there that might solve three teams’ problems with on mind-boggling move.

  • Nets receive Russell Westbrook
  • Lakers receive Ben Simmons & Furkan Korkmaz
  • Sixers receive James Harden

What? Let’s break it down.

Three unhappy players


We won’t spend much time or space here reminding everyone that Simmons wants out of Philly and Harden’s breakup with the Nets feels more imminent by the day.

But we got a curveball on Tuesday night from Westbrook, who told LeBron and AD that he wasn’t going to be able to help them down the stretch and that decision was out of his hands.

Westbrook’s homecoming has backfired miserably in LA. He hasn’t been the player they — or he — wants in the Lakers jersey and the results haven’t followed.

Now, he’s clearly not happy with his role on the team. And a trade out of his home town might not be a bad idea for all of the involved parties.

So we’ve got three potentially generational players who don’t like where they’re at right now…

The money works

The big question with a deal of this magnitude would be making the money work for all of the teams involved. In this case, it actually does work out.

Westbrook has a player option for next season that carries a salary of just over $47 million.

Harden also has a player option for next season; his carries a salary of just over $47.3 million.

Simmons, the youngest of the big three players involved in this deal, has three years of control after this season with salaries of approximately $35.4M, $37.9M and $40.3M, respectively.

The inclusion of Korkmaz gets Philly under the luxury tax threshold; his $4.6 million salary this season isn’t a big enough deal for the Sixers to pass on landing Harden.

Ben Simmons
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Would the Lakers do the deal?

Simmons would be a nice piece for the Lakers considering his three years of control.

Consider the Lakers have only three players under contract (non-options) for next year (LeBron, AD, Talen Horton-Tucker). That gives them a lot of roster to fill out, and Simmons studying LeBron’s game might help him reach his potential.

The fact that Simmons would be more than $11 million less than Westbrook’s player option for next year also gives the Lakers some financial flexibility for the immediate future.

Would the Sixers make the deal?

Of course they would. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; the front office in Philly knows Harden well from his time in Houston and they haven’t sprinted away from rumors of coveting the superstar.

However, the long-term reality of Harden on the Sixers is the most intriguing part of the deal.

The Sixers have eight players signed (non-options, not including Simmons) for next year. Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris will make more than $71 million combined next year, so Harden’s player option could force them to make other deals over the summer.

But this is the NBA. Who cares about next year when you can go for it now… right? And if the Sixers could put Harden and Embiid together they would be going for it for now and the coming seasons.

Russell Westbrook
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Would the Nets pull the trigger?

This is the big question. Brooklyn has denied any interest in a Harden deal for a while. But there’s a lot going on with the Nets’ roster right now, and it’s hard to see if Harden really wants to be there any longer.

Kyrie Irving has a player option for next year, which is a cloudy endeavor to consider given the way this season has gone. Do the Nets want to bring Kyrie back? And, if they do, how would their backcourt work with him playing next to Westbrook?

More importantly, the Nets would clearly need Kevin Durant to sign off on a deal of this significance. Obviously KD and Westbrook had some special times together in Oklahoma City… but the divorce wasn’t ideal. Are there hard feelings? Would they want to get the band partially back together in Brooklyn?

Financially for the Nets, Durant and Joe Harris only players making more than $4 million under contract (non-option) for next year.

So the money would work for Brooklyn. The question is, do they want this deal?

What do you think? Let us know on Twitter!

Tab has written about MLB, the NHL and the NFL for more than a decade for publications including The Fourth Period, Bleacher Report and La Vida Baseball. He is the author of two books about the Chicago Blackhawks and has been credentialed for the MLB All-Star Game and postseason and multiple Stanley Cup Finals. He is the co-host of the Line Drive Radio podcast.