Ben Simmons May Be Houston's Best Trade for Harden
The NBA offseason is off to a sizzling start, and we're only three days into it.
With the shortened offseason the NBA Draft is tonight, and free agency begins Friday. But the biggest move has yet to be made, and it could happen at any moment.
James Harden has openly requested a trade from Houston, and per reports, he wants to play in Brooklyn with his former teammate Kevin Durant and point guard Kyrie Irving. Harden's backcourt partner Russell Westbrook wants out, too.
Sources: After turning down an extension offer to become the first $50M a year player in league history, James Hard… https://t.co/rvlsr2NhTr— Adrian Wojnarowski (@Adrian Wojnarowski) 1605577569.0
Any trade offer coming from the Nets would, at the very least, include Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, and a slew of picks. It's not that easy, though.
ESPN is now reporting that Houston is feeling no pressure in moving its superstars, but that doesn't mean they've stopped fielding calls for The Beard.
So, what if I told you the Sixers can offer a better deal for Harden than the Nets?
Former Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is running the show in Philly now, and he's looking to reunite with his All-NBA shooting guard. And if you're current Rockets GM Rafael Stone, you want to get the best possible return for your franchise, regardless of where you send Harden. That's also why you don't want to rush this process, because you're in the driver's seat. Not Harden and not any of the teams desperate to acquire the 2017-18 MVP.
Moreover, seeing the return the Thunder got in the Chris Paul trade from the Pelicans in the Jrue Holiday package only increases the absurd return Houston can get for a top-10 player.
What Can Philly trade for The Beard?
The Sixers have two of the top 20 players in the NBA in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is one of the best two-way players in the game, coming off a 2019-20 campaign in which he averaged 23 points, 11.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks a contest. He's also a two-time All-Defensive selection.
Simmons is fresh off his first All-Defensive team selection and logged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and eight assists per game. He's only 24 and Embiid is just 26. But only one can remain in a pursuit of Harden, and if I'm Daryl Morey, I volunteer Simmons as tribute.
Pairing an elite scorer like Harden with Embiid AND Simmons would be a dream come true for Philly. But that's the catch — it's just a dream.
If Philadelphia is able to somehow turn it into reality though, the Harden + Embiid combo has the makings of a top-notch duo — one that can compete with KD and Kyrie in Brooklyn, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in Boston, and the new look Bucks in Milwaukee.
For the Rockets, an exchange in which they get Simmons back is a major win that could fast-forward a rebuild, assuming they move Westbrook, too.
In order to make this trade work, however, the Sixers need to dump one of the horrific contracts they have.
Backup center Al Horford is set to make $27 million annually over each of the next three seasons, and forward Tobis Harris will earn $33 million, $36 million, $38 million and $41 million over the next four seasons. YIKES.
There's no way in hell Houston asks for Harris in the deal, but Horford's contract is feasible, and it would give the team a starting center, like, a real one.
Here's my proposal:
The trade machine doesn't allow this deal to be processed because Robert Covington is still on Houston's roster (he's being traded to Portland). But in this move, the Rockets get a two-way All-Star in Simmons, a couple of young guards with plenty of potential, and to seal the deal: draft picks.
Philly has five picks in the 2020 draft alone, followed by a 2021 second-rounder and a 2023 second-rounder which will be the most favorable one of three teams': Atlanta, Charlotte and Brooklyn.
The Nets, in addition to LeVert and Dinwiddie, have two picks in Wednesday's draft and four second-round picks in 2021. So it all comes down to what each team is willing to offer, how desperate they are and most importantly, if the Rockets like the return.
In this case, if the Sixers are comfortable and willing to dispatch from Simmons, their 2016 No. 1 overall pick, Houston should seriously consider pulling the trigger. We'll see if Stone and company are feeling frisky ahead of the draft.
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