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Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 4 mins

Harden For Simmons Trade Sees Nets Title Odds Tumble, Sixers Surge

Harden For Simmons Trade Sees Nets Title Odds Tumble, Sixers Surge

There was always a chance it was going to happen. Never say never in the NBA, right? But two contenders in the same division swapping All-Stars? Making a midseason swap of incredibly high-usage players with just two months to integrate them until the postseason?

There were so many roadblocks in the way that a James Harden-for-Ben Simmons swap felt unlikely despite all the smoke around it in the lead-up to the NBA trade deadline.

And then, on Thursday afternoon, the NBA reminded us why it’s the best.

The Nets and Sixers pulled off a massive deal in the hours before the deadline, sending James Harden to Philadelphia in exchange for disgruntled point guard Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and two first-round draft picks.

The sports betting world reacted immediately. Though the Nets are still favorites to win the 2022 NBA Finals, their odds lengthened from +350 to +425 at BetMGM after losing Harden.

The Sixers, meanwhile, saw their NBA odds shrink from +1400 to just +550 as they paired the best 1-2 punch in the NBA together in Harden and MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid. Here’s what the deal means for both sides:

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What it means for the Sixers

The free throw line is going to wear out in Philadelphia. Embiid and his MVP odds (+200 on betting apps) now get a true superstar in Harden, who even in a down year is averaging 22.5 points and 10.2 assists. It remains to be seen how these two will co-exist—while getting up to speed and ready for the playoffs—but there isn’t a better scoring combo in the league. That matters in the postseason.

And while they had to deal away two pieces of the rotation in Curry and Drummond, the rest of the Philly core is solid: Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and Furkan Korkmaz complement those two to perfection. Expect Philly’s NBA futures odds for the title to shrink as the regular season goes on and into the postseason. Just 2.5 games out of first place, it wouldn’t surprise us if the East goes through the City of Brotherly Love.

For Embiid, we don’t expect him to slow down anytime soon or for his MVP odds to fade. Harden has a knack for finding his big men and he’s second in the NBA in assists. If anything, Embiid’s NBA-leading 29.4 points per game could increase. This strengthens Embiid’s case for MVP, even if his usage will take a slight hit.

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What it means for the Nets

It says a lot about a team that they can trade away a Hall of Famer in his prime and still be the NBA betting favorites to win the championship. Oh, and the Nets are also seventh in the East right now after losing a ninth straight game earlier in the week. They’d currently have to win a play-in game to even be eligible for the postseason.

And yet, we understand why they’re the favorites. Durant in the postseason is as good as any player in the league, Irving will still play in road contests and has hit a big shot or two in the postseason, and Simmons won’t need to score the way he was asked to in Philadelphia. Running the offense, pushing in transition and playing lockdown defense will be good enough when your top two teammates are elite scorers.

Don’t forget about the supporting pieces, either. Drummond is a big body who can log minutes on the interior and score when he needs to, while Seth Curry is putting up a career year on the perimeter. The rest of the supporting cast—Patty Mills, LaMarcus Aldridge, Nic Claxton, Bruce Brown and Blake Griffin—is complementary to the new Big Three.

A lot will hinge on how Simmons, who hasn’t played a game in nine months, performs, but there’s still plenty of optimism for New York sports betting fans that the Nets right the ship in time for the postseason.

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About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports betting journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports. He regularly provides NBA betting picks, as well as in-depth sportsbook reviews and the latest promo codes for all the major sports gambling operators, including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel and more.