• The Philadelphia 76ers were close to pairing up Joel Embiid with Bradley Beal at the trade deadline
  • James Harden became their number one choice due to Beal's season-ending injury, according to Bill Simmons
  • Philadelphia could try to entice Beal to sign with them next season as he can opt out

The Philadelphia 76ers lifted a major weight off their shoulders at the trade deadline, but it appears that trading Ben Simmons to the Brooklyn Nets was not what Joel Embiid wanted at first.

Bill Simmons, founder of sports and pop culture website The Ringer, spoke with Zach Lowe on his podcast about Embiid pushing the Sixers to trade for Bradley Beal.

“This is what I heard and I have had pretty good intel throughout this whole thing [NBA trade deadline]. [Joel] Embiid really wanted Bradley Beal and was pushing really hard for it, talking to him all the time,” Simmons revealed.

“Part of the reason the trade stuff took so long was because there was a Sixers side that wanted [James] Harden–obviously Daryl [Morey] because Harden’s his guy. But Embiid really wanted Beal because he felt like he was a better fit.”

Simmons then described that it was Beal disclosing to Embiid that he will be out for the rest of the season that finally convinced the Sixers big man to take a step back and allow the Nets to deal for Harden.

Embiid saying that Beal was a better fit for the team is right in certain regards.

The 32-year-old Harden is putting up one of his worst seasons in terms of shooting efficiency (41.4 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from beyond the arc) as he deals with a hamstring injury that has been bothering him since sustaining it in the playoffs.

Harden is believed to be opting into the final year of his four-year, $171 million contract that he had signed with the Houston Rockets ahead of the 2019-20 season, which will allow him to make $47.3 million next season.

As for Beal, the 27-year-old has dealt with injury problems in the past two seasons which forced him to miss a total of 27 games, plus a handful more this year prior to him undergoing season-ending surgery on his left wrist.

However, Beal does not need to have the ball in his hands as much as Harden does, which could have led to a more poignant offense based on zipping the ball around the court instead of repeated pick-and-roll situations.

Although, the Sixers may have an opportunity to bring Beal on board next season to form a three-headed monster in Philadelphia.

The 27-year-old also has a player option on his contract for next season, and while there is hope from Wizards general manager Tommy Sheppard that the St. Louis, Missouri native would stay, he could seek greener pastures.

Regardless of the Beal situation, the Sixers are in prime contention to make it out of the East this season and finally give Embiid a chance to compete for an NBA title after previous playoff runs ended in heartache.

Brooklyn star James Harden reacts during an NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks
James Harden reacts during an NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA via AFP / Todd Kirkland