In a newly published list of blockbuster trade ideas, Bleacher Report suggested that the Houston Rockets could finally pull the trigger on a James Harden deal by sending the disgruntled guard to the Philadelphia 76ers in a three-way transaction also involving the Denver Nuggets.
As suggested on Thursday by the outlet's Zach Buckley, the "most logical" outcome for Harden would be a move to the Sixers in a trade featuring Simmons. He wrote that his ability to dominate half-court offenses makes him a more ideal fit alongside All-Star big man Joel Embiid, as opposed to Simmons, whose lack of shooting range has been well documented since he was picked first overall in the 2016 draft. Simmons was also described as a stable "anchor" for any deal involving two superstars.
Given that several proposed deals have suggested a Harden-for-Simmons swap that only involves Houston and Philadelphia, Buckley went a different route with his hypothetical trade, which would have the Rockets superstar and Nuggets backup center Bol Bol heading to the Sixers. Denver would receive Simmons and Sixers reserve guard Matisse Thybulle, while the Rockets would get Gary Harris, Michael Porter Jr., R.J. Hampton, and first-round picks in the 2021 and 2025 drafts from Denver, as well as a 2023 first-rounder from Philly.
According to Buckley, the move could help the Nuggets as Simmons' skills as a stopper could allow him to upgrade the club's defense, which is presently ranked 28th in the entire NBA. The writer added that the Australian point guard could also thrive on the offensive end, benefiting from center Nikola Jokic's ability as an outlet passer as well as a "better-spaced attack" that also features another promising young talent in Jamal Murray.
"Since Jamal Murray is more scorer than table-setter, he could kick over to off-guard on offense and handle the easier backcourt assignment on defense. But he'd still have ample opportunities to run the offense, and he could even trigger some pick-and-rolls with Simmons functioning as the hyper-explosive roller."As for the Sixers, Buckley wrote that Harden would give the club two "borderline unstoppable" offensive options, with the three-time scoring leader teaming up with post-up specialist Embiid and potentially thriving as an isolation player. He added that rival teams will likely have a difficult time guarding the Sixers if the hypothetical deal pushes forward, given the multiple "two-man possibilities" Harden and Embiid might pose and the open shots their teammates might get when defenses are bearing down on the two superstars.
Lastly, the Bleacher Report writer predicted that the transaction could help the Rockets restock their roster and build for the future, as Porter (19.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, per Basketball-Reference) has been posting big numbers in his second NBA season. While Harris has struggled in recent seasons, he is just 26 years old and still has the potential to re-emerge as a three-point threat if the team decides to keep him.