"In speaking to individuals with knowledge, Ben Simmons was prepared to be traded today," ESPN's Brian Windhorst said on The Hoop Collective podcast (4:00 mark). "I don't know if I can say expecting to be traded, but [he] was prepared to be traded, was ready to be traded. They never told him he was going to be traded."
Per several reports, Simmons is said to be taking the trade talk in stride:
Marc J. Spears @MarcJSpears
Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star.
ESPN's Tim MacMahon added on The Hoop Collective podcast that there wasn't a consensus within Philadelphia's organization about trading away Simmons and that Doc Rivers wanted to keep the team's current nucleus intact.
Ultimately, the Sixers stood pat and Brooklyn pulled off a massive, four-team deal to land Harden, giving up four future first-round picks and four future first-round pick swaps among a number of other moving parts:
There have long been questions about whether the duo of Joel Embiid and Simmons fit well enough together on the court to lead the team to a title. Those questions won't go away after Simmons was floated in trade talks for Harden.
The 24-year-old remains an unconventional player—elite on the defensive end and one of the best passers in the NBA—but at times is unwilling to pursue his own offense or take jump shots. Simmons is a blur in transition but often an anchor in the half court, wanting to occupy the same spots on the block that Embiid more successfully frequents.
The team's current roster construction alleviates some of that clunkiness, surrounding the pair with shooters and floor-spacers. But Philly lacks a truly dynamic shot-maker on the perimeter, and you can bet that if a player like Bradley Beal becomes available, the Sixers will be linked.
Until that point, if it ever arises, the Sixers remain tethered to the Embiid-Simmons duo.