Among those who understand what the Portland Trail Blazers are going through with Damian Lillard‘s trade request are the Philadelphia 76ers, who dealt with a similar situation with Ben Simmons back in 2021. In fact, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne compared the two situations on the July 11 episode of NBA Today.
Shelburne revealed that the comparison came up when speaking with multiple NBA executives, saying that the situation could persist for months.
“I just talked to two GMs this morning who said, ‘We might be looking at another Ben Simmons situation.’ This guy’s got four years on his contract. They don’t have to do anything. They can take their time. And let’s just see if he shows up to training camp. If they want to wait until February to trade him, they can.”
Simmons requested a trade shortly after the Sixers were eliminated in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The Sixers did not grant his request until around the following NBA Trade Deadline when they traded him for James Harden. The Sixers were willing to deal with Simmons choosing to sit out of basketball games and managed to get an asset back for him when it was all said and done.
The question will be if Portland and Lillard are willing to do the same thing knowing their history together.
Joel Embiid Would Prefer James Harden to Stay
Joel Embiid gave his honest thoughts on Harden’s trade request while talking with Showtime’s Rachel Nichols. Though he expressed his disappointment in Harden’s request, he holds nothing against his teammate, knowing that’s how the NBA works.
“I understand. It’s business. People make decisions, and I’m more appreciative of the way he’s handled the whole situation. We’re going to be boys forever.”
Embiid added that he would like to have Harden back this coming season, but again expressed that the two would remain friends whether he does or does not play for the Sixers again.
“(I) want him to come back, obviously, so we can go out and accomplish what we want, which is to win a championship, so hopefully that his mindset can be changed. But, other than that, I’m just so happy to be his friend. We’re close, and we’ve grown since he got here. I’m excited to keep that for the rest of our lives.”
James Harden Reiterated Trade Request
On that same episode of NBA Today, Shelburne reported that Harden met up with Sixers’ President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, where he reiterated that he wanted off the team.
“They’ve spoken again, and he still reiterated that he wants to be traded. Now this is not a demand. It’s a request. And I think that the Sixers have said, ‘OK, we will try to trade you,’ but there is no hurry to do this,” Shelburne said.
Shelburne delved further into the leverage the Sixers have in the situation.
“I think the Sixers understand here that they have the leverage here. I mean James has picked up his option, this is an opt-in to his contract, and he’s going to be a free agent after this season. So at some point, he needs to play, whether that is in Philadelphia or elsewhere.”