James Harden “wants to be on a contender elsewhere” and the Philadelphia 76ers are one of his preferred destinations, so here is a trade scenario that would benefit both sides.
It isn’t looking good in Houston. Russell Westbrook wants out and now the face of the franchise doesn’t believe that the Rockets are a place where he can win a championship any longer.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Monday evening that Harden is focused on being traded to the Brooklyn Nets to form a superteam along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. But, Woj also wrote the Nets and Rockets haven’t made much progress towards getting a deal done.
After all, it doesn’t seem too likely that the Nets have enough assets they’re willing to part with that are also appealing to Houston. Shams Charania also tweeted on Monday that Philadelphia is Harden’s other preferred destination. Meek Mill is trying to persuade Harden to push for a trade to the City of Brotherly Love.
Former Rockets GM Daryl Morey and championship head coach Doc Rivers have taken over as the leaders of the organization so the team is obviously in “win-now” mode. If anyone knows what Harden can contribute to a contender, it’s Morey and he has a track record of making big-time deals for superstar players.
Here is a trade scenario that works for not just the 76ers, but the Rockets as well.
76ers acquire James Harden
Rockets acquire Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle, 2022 1st-Round Pick
This trade would definitely fit into the blockbuster category although it doesn’t involve as many players and picks as most people would predict.
Why the 76ers do it
It’s clear why the 76ers do this trade. Morey would be reuniting with the best player he has ever had on his roster. Harden would be a huge upgrade offensively over Simmons, as he is the opposite of afraid to shoot three-pointers. The former NBA MVP averaged more than double the points than Simmons scored last season.
During the playoffs, Joel Embiid was forced to carry the offense so taking the pressure off him in big moments could be beneficial and may give him more open looks to score. Harden also hasn’t had two All-Star big men (Embiid and Tobias Harris) on his team in Houston so it would be interesting to see if he is able to create more scoring opportunities for the rest of the offense.
Some 76ers fans might not want to see Simmons pack his bags but you have to give up something in order to get something and Embiid isn’t going anywhere. Simmons, 24, hasn’t learned how to shoot the three-pointer and they have given him plenty of time to do so. While his defense is irreplaceable, their inability to win a single playoff game in 2020 showed they need more offense. It isn’t a secret Simmons’ partnership with Embiid hasn’t amounted to what Philadelphia expected so it may be time to move on. After all, Harden isn’t a bad replacement.
According to TradeNBA, the 76ers are projected to have an 18 win increase in this scenario, as they receive one of the best offensive producers of all-time to pair with Embiid, Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford.
Why the Rockets do it
Let’s be clear, the Rockets don’t want to trade their best player. He is one of the best players to don a Houston uniform and will be a Hall of Famer one day, so they aren’t going to give Harden away for anything.
In the scenario Harden is traded, Houston will have to be blown away and this return checks the box. Simmons is the centerpiece going back to Houston and while he has been criticized for his inability and, at times, unwillingness to shoot the deep ball, he is one of the best defensive players in the game–which is something that’s hard to find with final scores around the league routinely being in the 100’s. He was named to the 2019-20 All-NBA and All-Defensive Teams, as he led the league in steals per game (2.1). Perhaps going to a team known for its shooting will unlock Simmons in a way that Brett Brown was unable to do in Philadelphia.
Who is Thybulle?
Thybulle wasn’t getting a lot of playing time with the 76ers, as he was stuck behind established players but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be a valuable piece to the Rockets. The Sixers 2020 first-round pick started 14 games averaging over a steal and about five points per game in his rookie season. Giving Thybulle more playing time would allow him to gain more experience and be more comfortable playing in the NBA.
Draft picks are obviously huge in trades nowadays and it’s no different here. Harden wasn’t going to be gifted to Philadelphia so at least one first-round pick had to be included. Since Harden is a Hall of Fame-caliber player the Rockets get Philadelphia’s 2022 first-rounder instead of their 2021 pick, as evaluators believe the 2022 draft class will be deeper than 2021.
According to the TradeNBA, the Rockets project to see their wins decrease by 18 but that should be expected when they’re trading away their biggest offensive producer.
Check us out on our socials:
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @benfaddensports
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images