‘He got traded, he’s healthy now’: Simmons-Harden trade makes for some awkward scenes during NBA All Star draft
The NBA trade deadline fell on the same day as the All Star draft, putting Kevin Durant in an awkward spot.
- James Harden was traded away from Brooklyn for Australian NBA star Ben Simmons
- Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant had multiple chances to select his former teammate in the NBA All Star team but passed them all up
- Many Philadelphia fans were happy to see an end to the stand-off between the 76ers and Simmons
Durant and LeBron James went on US national television to pick their 12-man All Star squads one player at a time, but Durant was the only one with a teammate (well, now a former teammate) on the board.
After 21 picks, just two names remained — defensive centre Rudy Gobert, and 2018 MVP and three-time scoring champion James Harden.
But a disgruntled Harden had that morning been traded from Durant’s Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers for Ben Simmons. As Durant started his deliberations for his final selection everyone knew where it was going.
“I’m gonna need some size for sure,” said a straight-faced Durant, despite already boasting seven-footers Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns on his roster for a game typically dominated by high-scoring ball-handlers.
“So I’m gonna go with Rudy Gobert.”
That left James with Harden, and he questioned if the nine-time All Star, who has missed three games with an apparent hamstring strain, was healthy.
“He got traded; he’s healthy now,” former NBA superstar Charles Barkley said from the hosting panel.
Earlier in the show, Durant spoke typically earnestly about the recent trade, with the Nets getting sharp-shooter Seth Curry and centre Andre Drummond as well as Simmons from Philadelphia.
“I’m excited for our team. Looking forward to finishing the season out with this new group and these new players,” he said.
“Playoffs are right around the corner so we’ve gotta fast-track getting used to each other. But I’m excited.
It certainly seemed Simmons’s former Philly teammate, Embiid, was happy with the deal, tweeting out a meme relating to a man going to his “biggest hater’s funeral just to make sure [they are] dead”.
There was certainly some joy on social media among 76ers fans, for whom the Simmons stand-off has been a sideshow all season, and praise for Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey for getting such a big return for a player who clearly wanted out.
But any drama surrounding Simmons has now moved to Brooklyn, which has already had its fair share.
Kyrie Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 means he can’t play home games because of New York state laws, and the team is on a nine-game losing streak as Durant manages a knee injury.
But there is also hope that Simmons’s exceptional passing and defence can complement the electric offence of a team with not only Durant and Irving, but Boomers legend Patty Mills and three-point shooters like Curry and Joe Harris.
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