Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers

Yong Kim - Philadelphia Inquirer

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.

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.

Paul George grabbing a rebound in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals

Barry Gossage/Getty Images

In a must win game for the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George was finally able to look like the best player on the floor in a playoff game.

After a slow start, George poured it on in the second half on his way to a game high 41 points in Game 5. The performance elevated the Clippers over strong outings from the likes of Devin Booker and Chris Paul as L.A. outlasted Phoenix 116-102.

The Clippers don't have much time to bask in their win however as they have to turn around and play two more elimination games just to make it out of the West. The Suns jumped out to a 3-1 series lead as Los Angeles struggled to find their identity without Kawhi Leonard. If the Clippers are to stave off elimination any longer, George has to continue this level of play.

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Ben Simmons disappointed in the playoffs this season

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Following a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Philadelphia 76ers and coach, Doc Rivers, are questioning if Ben Simmons is the right guy to be running their offense through moving forward.

Offense being the key word here.

Simmons is an all-world defender possessing the ability to guard virtually any opponent on the court from the perimeter to the rim. But it was his lack of offensive help throughout this playoff season that stood out beyond any accomplishments this year. Simmons joined Rudy Gobert as unanimous selections for the NBA's All-Defensive First Team this year and also finished fifth in the NBA in assists per game with 8.8 per contest.

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The Lakers looked lost in the Valley

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Phoenix Suns are just a win away from sending LeBron James home in the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the King's illustrious career.

After stating that "These shoulders were built for a reason," James referring to facing the challenge of taking on added responsibilities after Anthony Davis was ruled out for Game 5, the Lakers and LeBron disappointed in a big way Tuesday night. L.A. started off hot jumping out to a 10-5 lead behind a couple shots from James and a three from Davis' replacement Markieff Morris. But it didn't take long for the wheels to completely fall off for the defending champion Lakers as they spent most of the first half trying to remember how basketball works.

LeBron James LeBron looking on during Game 5Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Two numbers stick out in the Game 5 loss for the Lakers and those are 34.5 and 12. Los Angeles shot 34.5% from the field on Tuesday night and were minus 12 in turnover ratio. No matter who's on your team, if you can't shoot and you can't protect the ball, the outcome is already determined.

The Suns weren't simply beneficiaries of a poor performance however as the Suns put it on the Lakers early and often and they never let their foot off the pedal for 48 minutes. Phoenix ended with 15 more assists, had seven more combined steals and blocks, and outscored L.A. in the paint by 12 points. Devin Booker and Cameron Payne were spectacular and they seemed to hit big shots every time the Lakers appeared to threaten a comeback. Mikal Bridges was effective on both sides of the ball adding three steals and two blocks to help electrify his team with the defensive effort.


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