Since the 2020 offseason started, rumors have been continuously swirling around All-Star shooting guard James Harden and his future with the Houston Rockets. After once again failing to achieve their main goal last season, Harden expressed his desire to leave Houston and chase for his first NBA championship title somewhere else. In the past months, several teams have already expressed a strong interest in acquiring “The Beard” from the Rockets, including the Philadelphia 76ers.
As of now, it seems like the Rockets are sticking to their plan to run it back with Harden. However, if they struggle earlier in the 2020-21 season, they may finally consider letting the scoring champion go. In a recent article, Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report predicted that the Rockets will send Harden to the Sixers for a trade package centered on Ben Simmons before the 2021 trade deadline.
“Ben Simmons is the perfect solution to Houston’s predicament—even if everyone may not agree. Harden might be brilliant in his craft, but he’s a 31-year-old who plays a hyper-specific style that demands a supporting cast be constructed with that skill set in mind. Simmons, meanwhile, is a 24-year-old who just needs athletes who are willing to run to make the most of his vision, distributing and 1-through-5 defending. So, why would the Sixers give him up? Because he isn’t a great fit with Joel Embiid, and there’s little (if any) evidence the two can engineer a championship run together.”
Trading a player with huge superstar potential like Simmons is arguably a difficult decision for the Sixers. However, it’s the type of sacrifice that they might have to make if they are serious about dominating the Eastern Conference and winning the NBA championship in the 2020-21 season. By trading Simmons to Space City, the Sixers would be acquiring a legitimate superstar who might be a much better fit with Embiid.
Harden would give them a very reliable scoring option, playmaker, and a legitimate threat from the three-point range. 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. Sharing the court with an elite three-point shooter like Harden could maximize Embiid’s full potential on the court and enable him to focus more on dominating under the basket.
Meanwhile, the potential deal could also make a lot of sense for the Rockets, especially if they are already planning to undergo a full-scale rebuild. Though there are still plenty of flaws with his game, Simmons is capable of becoming the centerpiece of the next title-contending team that the Rockets might try to build in Houston. Moving out of Embiid’s shadow to become the main guy could significantly boost Simmons’ development into legitimate superstardom.