The NBA trade deadline might not be until Feb. 10, but things sound as if they are finally starting to heat up on the Ben Simmons front.

The Sixers malcontent, who asked for a trade in August, has not appeared in a game all season and, barring a complete 180, appears to have played his last game with the team. While there have been various trade rumblings since August — Portland, Indiana, Atlanta, etc. — nothing has come to fruition, especially since Daryl Morey and the Sixers don’t seem in any rush to trade the three-time All-Star.

Sources have told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey that the latest team to show interest in Simmons is the Sacramento Kings, who are hell-bent on acquiring the 25-year-old point guard and are willing to also take on Tobias Harris and his $36 million average annual cap hit for the next 2 1/2 seasons. But what would the Sixers get in return?

With the Sixers reportedly not interested in Kings point guard De’Aaron Fox, a potential deal would center around Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and second-year point guard Tyrese Haliburton.

Is that enough of a return for a player as talented as Simmons? Would Hield, Barnes, and Haliburton really be enough to make the current Sixers an NBA title contender? These are questions the Sixers’ brass will have to answer in the coming months.

— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport

Would you trade Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris for a package centered around Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, and Tyrese Haliburton? sports.daily@inquirer.com

Early Birds

Howie Roseman acknowledged that he is going into the offseason with the mindset that Jalen Hurts is the starting quarterback in 2022. Does that mean Hurts is the guy? Well, as EJ Smith notes, Roseman also once likened Carson Wentz to a finger on the hand that you couldn’t imagine yourself without. The Eagles will still evaluate the quarterback position and don’t appear to be ruling out scenarios in which they could acquire a veteran starter, or draft a quarterback. We’ll just have to see.

There’s also the matter of the coaching staff. Nick Sirianni in his comments Wednesday left open the possibility there could be staff changes, and as Jeff McLane notes, that’s probably a wise thing to do because he’s yet to meet with the owner. Jeffrey Lurie could, as he has in the past, might have something to say about the staff going forward.

Off the Dribble

Joel Embiid put on quite a show in the 76ers’ 123-110 Wednesday night victory over the Orlando Magic, posting 50 points and 12 rebounds in 27 minutes. It was the fewest minutes played in a 50-point, 10-rebound game in the shot-clock era, which began during the 1954-55 season.

But this was almost par for the course for Embiid, who is putting together an MVP season and carrying the Sixers as Simmons sits out and Harris struggles. That has been the case more than ever since the calendar turned to 2022. Embiid has averaged 30.5 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.0 assists in nine games. In fact, the Sixers’ 111-99 win against Boston, when Embiid posted 25 points in 32 minutes, was the only time this year he hasn’t scored 30 points or more.

Next: The Sixers play the Los Angeles Clippers at 7 p.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Center.

On the Fly

Is it time for the Flyers to make major changes and surrender the 2021-22 season for a more promising future?

If it’s not that time yet, it’s certainly approaching. The Flyers have lost nine straight games, their second nine-game losing streak of the season, and are 12 points behind Boston and have played three more games than the Bruins, who occupy the final wild-card spot. Claude Giroux for one isn’t thinking about a potential rebuild.

“I’m a strong believer in not looking at the big picture,” the Flyers captain said. “And that’s basically looking at it.”

The Flyers will need to start winning games soon or a rebuild could become the harsh reality, with Giroux the biggest potential trade chip the team has to cash in.

Next: The Flyers host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday at 7 p.m. (NBCSP). Former Flyer Jake Voráček is in COVID protocols for Columbus.

Fleet Street

The Union have had great success developing players of late out of their academy system, but now the coaching pipeline in-house might be paying off as well, says Jonathan Tannenwald. Former Union player Ryan Richter, whose Philadelphia roots go back to youth soccer and his college days at La Salle, has moved into an assistant coaching role.

Worth a look

  • From Bucks County to Buffalo: Former Archbishop Wood offensive lineman Ryan Bates is two wins away from making the Super Bowl with the Bills. Bates, who attended Penn State and was cut by the Eagles in 2019, is starting at guard for the Bills, who play at Kansas City in the divisional round on Sunday.

  • Double trouble: St. Joseph’s pulled back to .500 for the season thanks to double-doubles from Taylor Funk and Ejike Obinna. Funk and Obinna combined for 38 points and 22 rebounds as the Hawks won by 72-61 over George Washington.

  • Off the mark: Looking for a seventh straight win, Villanova shot poorly from outside in a 57-54 loss to Marquette. The Wildcats shot just 6-of-24 from three-point range, with Colin Gillespie (1-of-6) having a rare off shooting game.

Thursday betting tip

Looking for a bet to place? You could do a lot worse than Embiid for MVP.

At 10-1 at PointsBet, Embiid, who had 50 and 12 on Wednesday, is the fourth favorite for the award, behind Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic. Averaging 27.3 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.2 assists, Embiid could be worth a flyer, especially given his importance to the Simmons-less Sixers.

We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from: EJ Smith, Jeff McLane, Keith Pompey, Giana Han, Matt Breen, Gina Mizell, Jonathan Tannenwald, Jeff Neiburg, Rich Flanagan, Sam Cohn and Isabella DiAmore.