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Well, it finally happened.

Just a few hours ahead of the 2022 NBA trade deadline, the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets swapped disgruntled superstars in a blockbuster Ben Simmons-James Harden trade. The Sixers also parted ways with starting shooting guard Seth Curry and backup center Andre Drummond in the deal.

So, with Harden now in the fold and Simmons/Curry/Drummond packing their bags, what will the Sixers’ starting lineup and bench rotation look like moving forward?

76ers trade Ben Simmons for James Harden

After eight months of trade demands, millions of dollars in fines, and unnecessary drama abound, the 76ers have finally said goodbye to Ben Simmons.

On Thursday afternoon, with the NBA trade deadline clock ticking down, the Sixers traded Simmons, Curry, and Drummond to the Nets in exchange for Harden and Paul Millsap. Brooklyn also receives Philadelphia’s unprotected 2022 first-round pick, with the right to defer it to 2023, and a top-8 protected 2027 first-round pick, according to ESPN.

Not only do the Sixers get rid of their unhappy point guard who had no plans of suiting up for the team ever again, but they also add one of the best pure scorers in NBA history to pair alongside Joel Embiid.

Shortly after the trade went through, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported in a tweet that Harden intends on opting into his $47.3 million player option for next season. So, the Sixers now have Harden under contract for this season and the next.

Projecting the 76ers’ new starting lineup

Predicting the 76ers' lineup with James Harden.
James Harden attempts a layup over Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 7| Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Sixers have moved players in and out of the starting lineup all season. Embiid, Curry, Tyrese Maxey, and Tobias Harris were all locked in as starters whenever they were healthy, but the fifth spot rotated between Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and Furkan Korkmaz for much of the year.

With Harden now in and Curry out, the starting lineup should be pretty similar moving forward. Here’s what it might look like most nights:

PG: Tyrese Maxey
SG: James Harden
SF: Matisse Thybulle
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Joel Embiid

Bench: Danny Green, Georges Niang, Furkan Korkmaz, Paul Millsap, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe, Paul Reed, Charles Bassey, Jaden Springer

Green could slide into Thybulle’s starting spot here and there to give this group a more reliable shooter when needed, but the other four positions are now set in stone.

Possible Sixers rotation moving forward


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76ers head coach Doc Rivers has been criticized in the past for mismanaging the team’s rotation, and his job doesn’t get any easier with Harden coming on board.

The first names off the bench every game will likely be Green, Niang, Korkmaz, and Millsap (and Milton when he gets healthy), but Rivers’ challenge will be figuring out how to stagger them with the starters. Maxey seems to be the perfect option to run the point with four bench players alongside him. That way, the Sixers will have at least one proven scorer who can create his own shot on the floor at all times.

Harris could also take turns running with a bench lineup, but Rivers will want to keep Harden and Embiid on the court together as much as possible.

Philadelphia will need Reed to step up as the team’s primary backup center with Drummond now off the team, and Bassey could start to see more time, as well. And with Curry gone, Isaiah Joe becomes that much more important as a catch-and-shoot guard.

As long as Rivers can avoid using all-bench lineups in the third quarter as he’s done in the past, the 76ers should have a chance to gun for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference with their improved roster.

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