The Ben Simmons saga has been an arduous and varied journey, with the Sixers being connected to several teams and players along the way. But one player has been consistently mentioned more than any other: James Harden.
Harden, a star with the Brooklyn Nets, has yet to commit long-term to life in the Big Apple. And he maintains a close relationship with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and part owner Michael Rubin.
The rest of the league is also aware of this fact as well, and multiple sources told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey they believe the Sixers are waiting for Harden to become available via trade or free agency.
— Inquirer Sports Staff, @phillysport
This is unrelated to the story above, but we’ll ask it anyway because the next Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced on Tuesday. What former Phillies player would you most like to see in the Hall? Let us know your personal snub: firstname.lastname@example.org
Off the Dribble
The 76ers were once one of the best home teams in the NBA, turning franchises away every night at the Wells Fargo Center. But they struggled on the road — so much so that coach Doc Rivers bluntly pointed out the flaw when he joined the team in the offseason of 2020.
That has flipped under Rivers. The Sixers are 17-9 away from Philly after Sunday’s 115-109 victory in San Antonio, but just 10-10 inside their home arena. The dramatic shift is befuddling to Rivers and Sixers players. But they can now shift that narrative with their next five games — and nine of their next 12 heading into the All-Star break — at home.
Next: The Sixers play the New Orleans Pelicans at 7 tonight at the Wells Fargo Center (NBCSP).
On the Fly
A historic night.
Those at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night witnessed history both good and bad. First, they were present to see defenseman Keith Yandle tie Doug Jarvis’ record for consecutive games played at 964.
The second bit of history was less flattering as the Flyers lost, 3-1, to the Dallas Stars. The loss, the team’s 12th straight, equaled the franchise record for consecutive winless games set in 1999.
Next: There’s no rest for the weary as the Flyers are back in action tonight, looking to avoid history on the road against the New York Islanders (7:30, NBCSP+).
Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins played more games together than any other double-play tandem in National League history, so consider Utley an expert on his longtime partner. So is Rollins, who will find out tonight how he did on his first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot, worthy of induction into Cooperstown? “There’s no doubt in my mind,” Utley said.
There’s likely to be plenty of doubt in the voters’ minds, but that doesn’t mean Rollins will never make it. He is trending toward the 5% of the vote needed to remain on the ballot for another year. That could allow Rollins’ case to resonate with more voters over time. The Cooperstown cases for former Phillies Scott Rolen and Billy Wagner have gained momentum this year after both stuck on the ballot.
Next: The new Hall of Fame class will be announced on MLB Network at 6 tonight.
Chasing the dream of World Cup qualification still, the U.S. men’s national team is back in training ahead of three crucial Concacaf clashes against El Salvador, Canada, and Honduras. All of the Philly-area faves (Zack Steffen, Mark McKenzie, Christian Pulisic, and Brenden Aaronson) made the cut on a larger-than-usual roster of 28 players.
That reflects coach Gregg Berhalter’s coping strategy of pandemic-era precautions, since players might become suddenly unavailable. There’s also a high likelihood of injuries to players given the frigid conditions for the three games, plus the desperate nature of end-stage qualifying for the world’s biggest tournament. Jonathan Tannenwald has the scoop on this and other key soccer matches this week.
Worth a look
Back in the running: The Blue Cross Broad Street Run, Philadelphia’s signature 10-mile race, plans to return to its usual first Sunday in May time slot in 2022.
Joe Mihalich’s basketball expertise: The former Hofstra coach, a La Salle graduate and former Speedy Morris assistant, gets to as many games as possible after recovering from a stroke.
Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle played his 964th consecutive game when he took the ice Monday for his team’s game against the Dallas Stars, tying Doug Jarvis for the NHL record.
Because the Flyers’ franchise records are pretty much all Bobby Clarke, we’ll approach this differently and ask a somewhat tougher question: How many Flyers records does Clarke hold? And no cheating on Google.
We compiled today’s newsletter using reporting from Keith Pompey, Scott Lauber, Matt Breen, Jonathan Tannenwald, Gina Mizell, Mike Jensen, Olivia Reiner, Gustav Elvin, and Ximena Conde.