The Philadelphia 76ers have been frequently linked to rumors involving Houston Rockets superstar James Harden ever since they hired Daryl Morey as president of basketball operations. That is why it did not surprise anyone that the Sixers emerged as one of the frontrunners to land “The Beard” after he expressed a desire to leave the Rockets this offseason. Though the Brooklyn Nets are the top favorite trade destination for him, there are some people who think that Harden could end up wearing the Sixers’ jersey in the 2020-21 NBA season, including Bill Simmons of The Ringer.
In a recent appearance on The Ryen Russillo Podcast, Simmons discussed several interesting topics, including the potential deal that would enable the Sixers to acquire Harden this fall. To bring a player of his caliber to the City of Brotherly Love, Simmons believes that the Sixers should sacrifice one of their franchise cornerstones, specifically Ben Simmons. He thinks that a proposed blockbuster deal involving Simmons and Harden would be the “most logical trade” for the Sixers and the Rockets in the 2020 offseason.
“I didn’t fully believe it until the Horford trade today that secretly saved Philly a lot of money,” Simmons said, as quoted by RealGM. “With however much you have to add with whatever that Harden trade is. I think we all agree the Harden, Ben Simmons trade, whatever looks like, is the most logical trade. If Houston is going to trade Harden, they have to get someone like Ben Simmons back or it’s not worth it.”
As much as the Sixers wanted to create their own “Big Three” in the 2020-21 NBA season, the only way that they could convince the Rockets to engage in a blockbuster deal is by including one of their best players in the trade package. Trading the former No. 1 overall pick would definitely be a tough decision for the Sixers, but it would be worth it if it means acquiring a former MVP in return.
The successful acquisition of Harden would undeniably give the Sixers a better chance of fully dominating the Eastern Conference and capturing the Larry O’Brien Trophy in the 2020-21 NBA season. His arrival in Philadelphia would tremendously boost their performance on the offensive end of the floor, giving them a very reliable scoring option, playmaker, and an elite three-point shooter. Last season, he averaged 34.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.8 steals while shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from beyond the arc, per ESPN.
Compared to Simmons, Harden would be a much better superstar running mate to Embiid. Sharing the court with an efficient floor-spacer like “The Beard” would enable Embiid to focus more on punishing opponents under the basket. If they find the perfect chemistry, the Sixers could have their own version of the Kobe Bryant-Shaquille O’Neal duo next season.