By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — After months of drama and rumors, the Sixers have finally traded Ben Simmons. The Sixers on Thursday traded Simmons in a package to the Brooklyn Nets for former MVP James Harden.

The Sixers traded Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a protected 2022 first-round pick, and a protected 2027 first-round pick. Philadelphia will also get Paul Millsap in return.

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The deal was finalized on Thursday night.

The 2022 first-round is unprotected with a right to defer until 2023, according to ESPN. The 2027 first-round pick is protected 1-to-8. The pick would roll over to 2028 and be protected 1-to-8 again. If it rolls over to 2029, the pick becomes two seconds and cash considerations.

“James Harden is one of the truly elite players in the league. His career has been defined by incredible personal achievement, including honors as NBA MVP and three-time NBA scoring champion,” Sixers Managing Partner Josh Harris said. “We’re thrilled to pair him with Joel Embiid and this dynamic roster in our pursuit of an NBA title. I am proud to welcome James and Paul Millsap — a proven veteran and former All Star — to the 76ers, and can’t wait for what the future holds for the city and our fans.”

Harden has opted into his $47.3 million player option for next season as a result of the trade, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports.

Harden was set to miss his fourth straight game Thursday with a hamstring injury while trade rumors intensified.

The Nets acquired the three-time scoring champion from the Houston Rockets in a deal last January, with the idea that Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would be too potent to stop. The Nets loaded up for a title run with three of the highest-paid players in the league, but a championship run with them never materialized.

Harden and Irving were both hurt last year in the playoffs and the Nets lost in the second round to eventual champion Milwaukee. With Irving not joining the Nets until December and Durant injured in January, the Nets got only two games out of their Big Three this season.

They are 2-10 since Durant sprained his left knee, an injury that could keep him out until after the All-Star break. With Irving ineligible to play in home games because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 as mandated by New York City, it placed a heavy burden on Harden.

The Sixers are getting an MVP-worthy year out of Embiid and team President Daryl Morey — who was in the front office with Houston when Harden played for the Rockets — made the deadline deal to ensure the Sixers have plenty for the championship push.

Meanwhile, Simmons has not played at all this season.

The No. 1 overall pick in 2016, Simmons’ time ends in Philadelphia with a forgettable playoff performance, including an image that provided his distractors plenty of ammunition, and a training camp holdout.

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With the Sixers down by two points with 3 minutes and 29 seconds left in Game 7 to the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons passed up an uncontested layup, dishing the ball to Matisse Thybulle. Thybulle was then fouled on the play and went 1-for-2 at the free-throw line. The Sixers lost, 103-96, to Atlanta.

Embiid was seen throwing his hands up in disbelief when Simmons passed the ball. After the game, Embiid highlighted that moment the tides turned in favor of Atlanta.

“I’ll be honest, I thought the turning point was when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just, we had an open shot and we made one free throw,” Embiid said. “We missed the other and then they came down and scored. We didn’t get a good possession on the other end and Trae [Young] came back and made a three.”

Simmons didn’t report to training camp after telling the team in August he wanted to be traded, leaving his teammates, coaches and general manager to answer Ben-related questions at media day instead of the upcoming season. Each passing day seemingly came with a new excuse as to the reason he wanted out.

One day it was because of his relationship with Sixers fans. Another day, it was because he reportedly doesn’t feel his playing style is “conducive” to playing with Embiid.

Embiid, per usual, didn’t shy away from answering that report. During a media session on Sept 30. Embiid called the situation “disappointing” and “borderline kind of disrespectful” while setting the record straight

“Our teams have always been built around [Simmons’] needs. So it’s just kind of surprising to see,” Embiid said. “Even going back to, the reason we signed Al [Horford], we got rid of Jimmy [Butler], which I still think was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands I’m really focused on the guys that are here. The situation is disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives. Some guys rely on the team being successful to stay in the league and make money somehow. Because if you’re on a winning team, you’re always going to have a spot in the league, just because you’re on a winning team and you contributed.”

Simmons was a three-time All-Star with the Sixers, 2018 Rookie of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up last season. He also made the NBA All-Defensive First Team the past two seasons.

But, Simmons frustrated spectators with his lack of aggression offensively and, mostly, his unwillingness to shoot. Offseasons featured Instagram videos of Simmons working on his shot, but it rarely ever showed up in games. Then came the 2021 playoffs and finally, Game 7 against the Hawks.

The book has been published on the Simmons era in Philadelphia. It wasn’t a best seller.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)