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The Sacramento Kings — one of the most aggressive teams in the trade market and once an eager suitor for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons — have ended their pursuit of a deal with the 76ers and turned elsewhere in trade talks, sources told ESPN on Friday.
Inside of two weeks until the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline, the Kings believe the asking price is too steep and that a pathway to a trade agreement with the Sixers doesn’t exist, sources said.
The Kings, who have lost five straight and sit 13th in the Western Conference, are determined to reshape their roster and remain engaged on other fronts, sources said.
Sacramento has several players as viable trade assets, including forward Harrison Barnes, guard Buddy Hield and center Richaun Holmes.
The Kings’ roster represented one of the Sixers’ best options for a Simmons deal ahead of the trade deadline. Losing them in the marketplace somewhat diminishes the chances of an in-season trade, although the Sixers still believe there are potential avenues to a deal, sources said.
With the Kings exiting talks and sources saying the Brooklyn Nets will not engage on a James Harden trade, it becomes increasingly possible that 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey will be willing to advance the Simmons discussions into the offseason.
Morey and the Sixers have long believed that the offseason could bring higher-profile players into the trade market for Simmons. Along with free agency, playoff disappointments often give teams and star players reason to pursue change, which could offer the Sixers a wider spectrum of options.
The Sixers’ public and private threshold for a Simmons deal has consistently been stated as a return that would keep them as NBA championship contenders.
Simmons is signed through the 2024-25 season, and the Sixers believe that gives them leverage to wait on a deal. Simmons has sought a trade and declined to play, citing mental health reasons, as center Joel Embiid has turned into an MVP favorite while leading the Sixers to a 29-19 start — two games behind first-place Miami.
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