Simmons not worried about Harden trade rumours as 76ers star eyes NBA title

By Sacha Pisani 23 December 2020 6
Simmons not worried about Harden trade rumours as 76ers star eyes NBA title

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons said he is unfazed about trade rumours involving James Harden as he looks to deliver an NBA championship to the franchise.

Houston Rockets star and former MVP Harden reportedly wants to be traded to either the 76ers or Eastern Conference rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

There have reportedly been talks between the Rockets and 76ers, with Houston eyeing former number one draft pick Simmons as part of any potential deal.

Simmons was asked about the speculation ahead of the 76ers' season opener against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday.

"No," Simmons told reporters when asked if he is worried about the rumours following Tuesday's practice. "I come in every day, take it a day at a time, ready to work.

"I'm with my team-mates. ... Every day I wake up, every time I got a Sixers uniform on, I'm representing the Sixers. So my mentality never changes.

"I'm here to win a championship. That goal is never gonna change. I know things are always going to be said in the media, and rumours and things like that, but my goal is to come in every day and get better and help the team that I'm on win a championship."

Simmons averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds as the 76ers were swept by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of last season's playoffs at Walt Disney World Resort.

The 24-year-old – who signed a five-year, $170million max contract prior to 2019-20 – is an elite defender and creator with unrivalled pace, but his shooting struggles have left him stuck between a star and superstar.

There have been signs of a shooter behind all of his usual brilliance, however Simmons' jump-shot is too few and far between.

Previously compared to LeBron James, Simmons does not shoot threes or free throws well – his career free-throw percentage of 59.3 is the worst in NBA history by a guard with at least 1,000 attempts.

And his career three-point percentage (two-for-24, 8.3) is the lowest among all guards who debuted in the NBA in 2000 or later (minimum 20 attempts).

In 2019-20, points scored by Harden and points scored off his assists averaged 52.4 per game. It followed 53.9 in 2018-19, 51.3 in 2017-18 and 56 the season previous.

That marked four successive seasons with 50-plus points per game created, tying Oscar Robertson (1963-64 to 1966-67) for the longest streak in NBA history.

Harden averaged 34.3 points, 7.5 assists and 6.6 rebounds per game for the Rockets, who lost in the Western Conference semi-finals.

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Sacha Pisani

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