2022 NBA trade deadline rumors: Sixers to pursue James Harden, Nets open to discussing Ben Simmons swap

If you’re trying to keep track of who’s being shopped, who’s staying put, the buyers, the sellers, the buyout market and the teams that are “considering all of our options,” this is the place to be. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 10 at 3 p.m. ET, and, as it approaches, we promise that we’re maintaining our flexibility while aggressively looking for opportunities to improve. As always. 

What follows is a regularly updated rumor roundup. If you would like a long list of players who might be moved before the deadline, we have that, too.

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Sixers have talked to nine teams about a Simmons deal

Feb. 5: Brooklyn isn’t the only team in possible pursuit here. According to Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck, nine teams have spoken to Philly about a Simmons deal: the Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trailblazers, and Washington Wizards. With Harden now seemingly a legitimate possibility for the 76ers, though, the Nets should be considered the favorites to land Simmons.

A Harden-Simmons trade, now?

Feb. 4: Here’s an absolute bombshell: The 76ers are no longer expected to wait until the offseason to try to acquire James Harden, and the Nets are open to discussing a deal built around Harden and Ben Simmons before the trade deadline, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. 

Brooklyn reportedly still believes in the superteam it has on hand but sees an opening to balance the roster. The Athletic mentioned Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry and Matisse Thybulle as possible sweeteners in this swap, and cited sources saying that Harden’s ball-dominant, slow and surgical style has increasingly become a concern. 

From The Athletic:

Nets coach Steve Nash has met with his team’s stars over finding the balance and most beneficial styles, and although there have been bright spots, too often the team has reverted to a more dry offense at the end of games, especially against the league’s elite teams. In addition, the Nets’ game plans tend to shift depending on when Harden is on and off the floor, meaning a different play style at certain points. This has also been a point of contention from the coaching staff and players, sources said.

On Jan. 26 — eight days before this report — ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Nets did not even want to hear other teams’ offers for Harden, and that Harden had repeatedly told ownership and management that he wants to stay. At that time, the 76ers planned to pursue Harden in the summer but had not made Brooklyn an offer, per ESPN. 

That followed a Jan. 24 report by The Athletic that, given the offers on the table for Simmons, Philadelphia preferred to keep him past the trade deadline and chase Harden (or another star player), confirmed by CBS Sports’ Bill Reiter. It also followed Bleacher Report’s Jan. 25 story asserting that, while Harden hasn’t asked for a trade and still wants to compete for this year’s championship with the Nets, he intends to look at his options in free agency and is frustrated by unvaccinated teammate Kyrie Irving’s part-time availability, Nash’s experiments with the rotation and Brooklyn’s weather and taxes.

Wizards’ Beal hasn’t requested a trade … yet

Feb. 4: Bradley Beal has not asked out, and, unless he does, the Wizards are highly unlikely to have real conversations about trading him, per Marc Stein, citing a well-placed source. Washington is reportedly still trying to improve Beal’s supporting cast, and it is open to trading Montrezl Harrell, Thomas Bryant and “especially” Spencer Dinwiddie. 

Some context: The Wizards had lost six straight games before their win in Philadelphia on Feb. 2. They’ve gone 10-19 since Dec. 3 and rank 25th in point differential in that stretch. Beal is out with a wrist injury. 

Stein is among many reporters who have mentioned Domantas Sabonis and Jerami Grant as possible trade targets for Washington. On Feb. 2, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that the Wizards want Sabonis, but cited a source saying that Beal has not actively encouraged the team to go get him. On Jan. 19, Quinton Mayo reported that Beal had given Sabonis a ringing endorsement. 

Washington owner Ted Leonsis has no interest in trading Beal and starting over, per The Athletic’s David Aldridge and Josh Robbins. The Athletic also reported that, while Beal still prefers to stay in D.C., he is conflicted because he’s uncertain that the team can build a contender around him. He is reportedly no longer completely rejecting the notion of a trade.

On Jan. 26, Beal told NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller that making the play-in would be “a step back in a lot of ways.” The Wizards are now in 11th place in the East, fighting to merely remain in the mix for a play-in spot.

The Sixers, by the way, would be interested in a trade centered around Beal and Ben Simmons, according to The Athletic. But they are reportedly unwilling to send Tyrese Maxey or Matisse Thybulle to the Wizards as part of the deal.

Collins staying put?

Feb. 4: Collins hurt his shoulder during the Hawks’ win against the Suns on Feb. 3, but, even before that, it was becoming more likely that he’d stay in Atlanta past the deadline, per Stein. The Hawks have discussed potential Collins trades in the past few weeks, and they are reportedly content to wait until the offseason if they do decide to move him. 

Collins is in the first year of a five-year, $125 million contract. On Jan. 27, Bleacher Report reported that Atlanta was looking for a starting-caliber player and a first-round pick in exchange for him, and that Collins — along with Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari — had been involved in its discussions with Philadelphia about Ben Simmons.  

Atlanta is 25-26 on the season but has won eight of its last nine games.  

Is McCollum the next domino?

Feb. 4: The Blazers made their first future-focused move on Friday, which is another way of saying it looks like they’re punting the rest of the season. Now that Norman Powell and Robert Covington are out the door, who’s next?

According to Stein, CJ McCollum is available. He is making $30.9 million this season, $33.3 million next season and $35.8 million the following season. On Jan. 27, Bleacher Report reported that McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, who is on a $12 million expiring contract, are available, and that New Orleans is a possible landing spot for McCollum.

Nurkic has turned his season around, and he wants to remain in Portland. In a story published on Jan. 28, he told The Athletic’s Jason Quick that his gut tells him he won’t be traded.

“Nothing is 100 percent, but I feel like for the team, and who I think I am as a player, there is no way I’m leaving [in a trade],” Nurkic said. “I don’t see anything possible. Obviously, I want to be part of this organization as long as Dame [Lillard] is, and as long as we want to win. But if the team wants to go in a different direction, then I’m willing to do whatever they want to do.”

Nurkic said that, when the Blazers fired Neil Olshey and made Joe Cronin the interim general manager in early December, Cronin immediately reached out and said, “You are here to stay.” Plans can change quickly in the NBA, though, and, if Nurkic’s improved production translates to better trade offers, he might be playing himself right out of the place he wants to be. 

As Stein noted, on ESPN’s “Brian Windhorst & The Hoop Collective” podcast on Feb. 3, Windhorst reported that the guard-hungry Pelicans have not only talked to the Blazers about McCollum, but also the Rockets about Eric Gordon, the Hawks about Kevin Huerter and the Kings about De’Aaron Fox. Which brings us to…

Is Sacramento being — gasp! —  not entirely honest about Fox?

Feb. 4: According to Stein, rival teams do not believe that the Kings are really committed to building around Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. On Jan. 19, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Sacramento is not planning to trade Fox and has told him and his agent as much.

But an NBA team would never intentionally leak misleading information at this time of year, right?! That would be sneaky!

The Knicks have expressed interest in Fox, per ESPN.

Poeltl power!

Feb. 4: It will cost you a good player and a first-round pick to get in the Jakob Poeltl business, according to Stein, who speculated that the Spurs might be more inclined to move him if coach Gregg Popovich had already broken Don Nelson’s all-time wins record. (Popovich has 1,329 wins, Lenny Wilkens has 1,332 and Nelson has 1,335.)

Stein reported on Jan. 14 that the Raptors would love to reunite with Poeltl, but they might not be able to meet San Antonio’s asking price. In other Toronto-would-like-a-center news, the team has also inquired about Indiana’s Myles Turner and Houston’s Daniel Theis, according to a Bleacher Report story published on Jan. 27.

Beverley says he wants to stay with Wolves

Feb. 3: Timberwolves guard Patrick Beverley doesn’t want to go anywhere, according to Beverley himself.

“It’s been great here,” Beverley said, via Chris Hine of the Star Tribune. “Especially trying to establish a culture, a winning culture here. … They allowed me to be myself here. Allowed me to do my thing, and that’s affected [the team] on and off the court.”

Beverley is on a $14.3 million expiring contract. According to Dane Moore of Bring Me The News, he would like to sign a contract extension with the Wolves, but the team isn’t in a rush. 

On Feb. 2, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that Minnesota is exploring the market for Beverley and guard Malik Beasley.

Dinwiddie done in D.C. already?

Feb. 2: Spencer Dinwiddie has been slumping lately, and in his first 40 games as a Wizard he hasn’t been as efficient as he was in Brooklyn. Dinwiddie is available, per Bleacher Report, and a rival executive told The Athletic that Dinwiddie and Beal do not get along.

In a Jan. 31 column about the Clippers’ various trade-deadline possibilities, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor wrote, “The Wizards want to move Dinwiddie because he looks like a shell of his former self and his teammates don’t want him there.” Dang.

Related news: Two days before that story went up, following a 20-point loss against Memphis, Washington’s fifth loss in a row, a reporter asked Dinwiddie if he felt a responsibility to be more of a leader on and off the floor. “Off the floor, obviously, yeah, you want your daily habits to speak for you,” Dinwiddie said. 

And then he he continued: “You know, it’s an interesting situation. I spoke up a little bit early on. You know, it wasn’t necessarily welcome. And so, like I said, I try to do whatever I’m (asked), what’s asked of me. At the end of the day, everybody has a role to play and it’s about being accountable in your role and doing that to the best of your ability. That’s really all I got.”

Cuban: ‘We will do all we can’ to retain Brunson, Finney-Smith

Feb. 2: Jalen Brunson, drafted in the second round in 2018, is on a $1.8 million expiring contract and playing a crucial role for a Mavericks team that is playing like a fringe contender. Dorian Finney-Smith, undrafted in 2016, is on a $4 million expiring contract, has improved offensively and remains an important part of a defense that now ranks in the league’s top five. Is Dallas willing to pay what it takes to keep both of them? 

“We will do all we can to keep [both Jalen Brunson] and Dorian [Finney-Smith],” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told DallasBasketball.com’s Dalton Trigg.

The Mavs believe Brunson wants to stay long-term and have rejected trade offers for both players, per Marc Stein’s newsletter. On the latest episode of “The Lowe Post” podcast, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon said he’d been told that only a “what-the-bleep-are-they-thinking” offer would compel the front office to trade Brunson. MacMahon also said that, while Brunson would prefer to re-sign, he will not take a discount to do so. Brunson wants around $18 million per season in free agency, according to Stein. 

On Jan. 28, ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported that Brunson is real flight risk. Brunson is more likely to be traded than Finney-Smith, per The Athletic’s Tim Cato. 

Stein reported that the Mavs and Knicks are not actively discussing a Brunson deal, and that Dallas does not want to move him for its own 2023 first-round pick (which it sent to New York in the Kristaps Porzingis trade). The Knicks have been a rumored Brunson suitor for some time. On Jan. 15, the New York Post‘s Marc Berman cited an NBA source saying, “They want him bad.” 

Lakers looking to Baze less; Millsap a buyout possibility

Feb. 2: The Lakers are trying to move wing Kent Bazemore, who has played sparingly since mid-November, per Bleacher Report. They will reportedly be interested in big man Paul Millsap, who has been shelved in Brooklyn, if Millsap is eventually bought out (and doesn’t immediately sign with Chicago, reportedly his preferred landing spot). 

Suns, Pelicans, Cavaliers interested in Gordon?

Feb. 2: Rockets guard Eric Gordon has drawn interest from Cleveland, New Orleans and Phoenix, per Bleacher Report. Houston is reportedly asking for a first-round pick in return.

Simmons, Sixers to meet again after deadline if he’s not traded

Feb. 1: Simmons and the Sixers remain at an impasse, but they’ll meet again if he’s not traded by the deadline, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. Simmons has reportedly been fined more than $19 million this season and could lose another $12 million if he sits out for all of it. “We don’t give a f— about the money,” a source close to Simmons told ESPN.

Is there any situation in which Simmons would play for Philadelphia again? ESPN reports that his stance hasn’t changed: He is not mentally ready to play now, and he will never be ready to return to the Sixers. If he hadn’t been kicked out of practice on Oct. 19, he would have had to speak to reporters, at which point he reportedly would have said something like: “I’m not in a great place mentally. I don’t feel comfortable playing in this environment and I’m looking forward to a change of scenery.”

At the same time, Simmons still watches every game Philadelphia plays, according to ESPN. Hmm. 

For more on Simmons — and the Sixers’ refusal to trade him without getting an impact player in return — see our timeline of this ongoing stalemate. 

Raptors confident they’ll trade Dragic, not buy him out

Jan. 31: Goran Dragic will almost certainly be traded, rather than bought out, per the Toronto Star‘s Doug Smith. Dragic has been away from the Raptors since late November — a serious family issue reportedly required him to be in South Florida — and is on a $19.4 million expiring contract. 

According to the Star, the front office is exploring several possible trade constructions: swapping Dragic for another expiring contract, packaging him with a first-round pick and packaging him with another player.

Dragic could still wind up choosing his next destination. If Toronto trades him to a non-contender, he could be bought out. At that point, Dallas would be one of the front-runners to sign him, but it would have competition, according to Stein.

Is Washington showcasing Bryant?

Jan. 30: The Wizards’ three-center rotation is no more, and, oddly, Daniel Gafford was the odd man out against Memphis. Gafford, easily Washington’s best rim protector, has started in all of his 45 appearances this season, but got a DNP-CD so the coaching staff could get a look at Thomas Bryant with the starting unit. Bryant is working his way back into form after a knee injury, but was a starter at the beginning of last season.

At least that’s how coach Wes Unseld Jr. explained it. Josh Robbins of The Athletic wrote that he wouldn’t be surprised if the prevailing fan theory — that the front office is showcasing Bryant for a potential trade — is correct. 

The new starting five looked terrible against the Grizzlies, but Unseld said that the Wizards would give it a handful of games. Before the deadline, they will face the Bucks, Sixers, Suns and Heat.

Kings no longer pursuing Simmons

Jan. 28: Sacramento is out of the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Kings reportedly feel that the Sixers are asking for too much, so they’re moving on. 

Philadelphia reportedly hasn’t given up on trading Simmons before the deadline, but, if Sacramento doesn’t re-engage, it becomes even more likely that this saga stretches into the offseason. 

In a radio interview on Jan. 20, Sixers president Daryl Morey said that “for sure there are deals with the Sacramento Kings that I think would work,” but added that he had no idea if those deals would happen and they’d probably have to involve multiple teams. Morey also said that the chances of completing any Simmons trade before the deadline were “less likely than likely.”

Pacers want two firsts for LeVert, Holiday 

Jan. 28: Indiana is looking for at least two first-round picks for Caris LeVert, per Stein, and two first-round picks for Justin Holiday, per HoopsHype’s Mike Scotto. 

LeVert is 27 years old, needs the ball in his hands and is making $17.5 million this season and $18.8 million next season. Holiday is 32 years old, can slide into virtually any lineup in a 3-and-D role and is making $6 million this season and $6.3 million next season.

For some contenders, though, Holiday might not be an option because he is unvaccinated. On Dec. 12, he said he has no plans to get vaccinated. Holiday would fit well with the Nets, Warriors and Lakers, but, unless that changes, he wouldn’t be eligible to play in their home games.

Knicks’ Randle could be available 

Jan. 27: Julius Randle’s four-year, $117 million contract extension doesn’t even kick in until next season. He and the Knicks have regressed this season, though, and he could be moved in the right deal, per SNY’s Ian Begley, citing a source that had been in touch with New York recently. Randle’s jumper has abandoned him, and in his last 10 games he has averaged 15.7 points on 45.8 percent true shooting and made a quarter of his 3-point attempts. Is there a team in the league that believes in his 2020-21 breakout and wants to buy low?

Pacers want multiple picks to break up the bigs

Jan. 27: Indiana is looking for multiple first-round picks in any deal involving Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner, per Bleacher Report. Sacramento and New Orleans are both reportedly interested in Sabonis, but the Pacers are looking for a deal similar to the one that the Orlando Magic got for Nikola Vucevic last season.

The perceived chances of Turner being traded took a hit when he suffered a stress reaction in his foot in mid-January. 

A shake-up in Sacramento? You don’t say! 

Jan 27: The Kings are falling apart. They’ve lost five straight games and 10 of their last 12, and they responded to their 128-75 loss in Boston on Jan. 25 by losing 121-104 in Atlanta the next day. “Everyone we’re playing is having a field day,” said Harrison Barnes, who is among the many Sacramento players rumored to be available. The front office is shopping Barnes, Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and Tristan Thompson, per Bleacher Report. 

Will Schroder stay in Boston?

Jan. 27: The Celtics got Dennis Schroder for one year with the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, a $5.9 million bargain that set him up to hit free agency again this coming offseason and will make it difficult for Boston to re-sign him. (It does not have his Bird rights.)

In an interview with MassLive’s Brian Robb, Schroder said that he hopes to be with the Celtics “for a long time” and he “for sure” thinks he could be back on a new deal next season. In practice, however, he would either have to give them a big discount again or accept the full mid-level exception. (The latter scenario would require Boston to shed salary to get — and stay — under the luxury tax.) In an interview with The Athletic’s Jay King in mid-January, president Brad Stevens declined to comment on how Schroder’s contract will affect the front office’s approach to the deadline. 

According to Bleacher Report, Schroder and guard Aaron Nesmith are the two Celtics considered most likely to be traded, and Al Horford is also a trade candidate. Marcus Smart always comes up in trade rumors around this time, but his four-year, $76.5 million extension kicks in next season and it would reportedly take a “significant” trade offer for Boston to consider moving him.

On Jan. 19, The Athletic’s Jared Weiss reported that they are exploring potential Horford trades, pursuing another center and are open to moving wing Josh Richardson. Horford is on the books for $26.5 million next season, but only $14.5 million is guaranteed.

Robert Williams III is *not* available, by the way.

Brooklyn’s possible tweaks

Jan. 27: The Nets have had conversations involving the position-less Bruce Brown, guard Jevon Carter and even switchy center Nicolas Claxton, per Bleacher Report. It is also trying to move Paul Millsap, who reportedly considered the Bulls and Warriors in free agency last offseason.

Millsap wants to go to a team that has minutes for him. He hasn’t played since Dec. 27, and on Jan. 20, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that the two sides had agreed to part ways. The next day, Nets coach Steve Nash described it as “an unfortunate situation.”

Houston’s message: No urgency to make a deal

Jan. 26: The rebuilding Rockets have a couple of obvious trade candidates in 33-year-old guard Eric Gordon and 29-year-old big Daniel Theis. They could trade Christian Wood, too, and they’d love to find a way to move John Wall’s contract. Their message ahead of the deadline, though is loud and clear: We don’t have to do anything at all. 

Houston is not looking for win-now players, for obvious reasons, and it is not looking for more picks in this year’s draft, either, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen. The Rockets are interested in high-upside young players and future picks with little protection, and, if they don’t like the offers they get, they are reportedly fine with waiting until the draft and the offseason to do anything significant. 

This jibes with what The Athletic’s Kelly Iko reported on Jan. 24: Houston general manager Rafael Stone is content to take calls rather than aggressively making them. Theis and wing David Nwaba are more likely than Wood or Gordon to be moved before Feb. 10, per The Athletic, and, if the Rockets were to do another Wall-for-Russell Westbrook trade, they’d want to get the Lakers’ 2027 first-round pick as part of the deal. (On that theoretical possibility: Los Angeles isn’t interested, per Stein — it would rather hope Westbrook finds his form than give up yet another asset to end this experiment, having sacrificed so much to get him in the first place.)

Houston can credibly take this position because none of the aforementioned players are on expiring contracts. A word of caution, however: There is risk in standing pat, particularly in a situation like Gordon’s. His value should be much higher now than it was heading into this season, since he has stayed healthy and had the most efficient season of his 14-year career. The Rockets might not get exactly what they’re looking for in a Gordon trade, but they’ll have to weigh the offers they get against the possibility that they will get worse down the road.  

Orlando is still selling

Jan. 24: The Magic pivoted at last year’s trade deadline, moving Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier in separate deals that kickstarted a rebuild. They haven’t quite finished selling off their veterans, though — Terrence Ross (easily the longest-tenured member of the team) and Gary Harris (part of the Gordon trade) are both available ahead of the deadline, and Orlando is widely expected to move at least one of them, according to Stein.


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