Philadelphia 76ers: A look at Al Horford-Rockets trade hypothetical

Bleacher Report’s fantasy basketball league was shaken up once again by a Philadelphia 76ers blockbuster.

The Philadelphia 76ers recently swapped Tobias Harris and Josh Richardson for Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes in Bleacher Report’s newly minted fantasy basketball league. My feelings on the deal were mixed. As we all sit at home and twirl our thumbs, there’s no better time to dive deep into trade hypotheticals. Luckily, B/R has swiftly provided us with another.

Fantasy GMs for the Rockets and the Sixers convened yesterday to agree in principle to a trade centered on Al Horford. Philadelphia finally rids itself of Horford’s contract, while the Rockets add a frontcourt anchor to accompany James Harden and Russell Westbrook.

Here are the full details of the agreement.

76ers Get
Eric Gordon
Austin Rivers
Nemanja Bjelica
Chris Clemons
Rockets Get
Al Horford
Furkan Korkmaz
Shake Milton
76ers Get
Chris Clemons
Isaiah Hartenstein
(Houston also receives Atlanta’s 2020 second-round pick)

The details of this trade were messy, and according to Bleacher Report, it nearly died on the vine twice. There is a lot of money on the move, and multiple contracts needed to become guaranteed — Korkmaz, Clemons, and most notably Rivers — before a deal was legal.

It’s also worth noting the inclusion of Nemanja Bjelica, who the real-life Rockets don’t presently have on their roster. He came to Houston via a different fantasy trade involving the Kings. Also notable is that, in the world of this trade, the aforementioned Tobias Harris-Buddy Hield swap has already occurred.

The Sixers’ roster is therefore left as following:

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes, Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers, Nemanja Bjelica, Cory Joseph, Chris Clemons, Isaiah Hartenstein, Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson III, Matisse Thybulle, Kyle O’Quinn, Norvel Pelle, Raul Neto, Marial Shayok

In general, the new-look fantasy roster does fit much more comfortably around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Sixers’ front office — the real one, that is — has done an incredibly poor job building around its stars’ skill sets. More shooters and more ball-handlers is a positive progression.

The starting five would probably shake out like this: Joel Embiid, Nemanja Bjelica, Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Ben Simmons. The sixth and seventh man duties would fall to Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers, while Burks, Thybulle, and Robinson compete for minutes on the wing. O’Quinn, Hartenstein, and Pelle would all compete for backup center minutes behind Embiid.

This is a better roster than the current roster in terms of fit and long-term financial outlook. Harris and Horford’s contracts are off the books, Gordon and Rivers are tailor-made to the Simmons-Embiid pairing, and Hield should thrive as Brett Brown’s new high-volume bomber.

If we are to view the Horford trade in a vacuum and ignore the Harris-Hield swap, it still looks good. While losing Shake Milton is a tough pill to swallow, it’s a bit premature to call him outright superior to either Gordon or Rivers, who can aptly fill his void. Bjelica is a supreme floor-spacer in the frontcourt who can easily reverse many of the fit issues caused by Horford.

Next: 2020 NBA Draft Big Board 2.0

This is a good trade. Milton and Korkmaz are both affordable, young talents at important positions, but that’s the price you pay to remove three years of near-max money dedicated to Horford’s fading star. This trade makes very little sense for Houston, but from Philadelphia’s perspective, it’s a home run.