The Rockets want a king’s ransom from the Sixers in exchange for James Harden.
The James Harden saga continues. Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Philadelphia 76ers are unwilling to part with Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons in any potential trade. This comes as no surprise, with Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers determined to see how the newly constructed roster gels.
The Rockets have reportedly been asking for much more than Ben Simmons. According to Aaron Weitzman, the author of Tanking to the Top, Houston has thus far demanded three first-round picks in addition to Ben Simmons. The Sixers have understandably not pulled the trigger.
While there has been debate over whether the Sixers should trade Simmons, it’s not a particularly hard decision. If the Sixers can swap Simmons for Harden, it should be done in a heartbeat — without a moment’s hesitation. When the Rockets ask for a treasure trove of picks in addition to Simmons, however, the negotiations get trickier.
At this point, the expectation is James Harden will start the season in Houston. Ben Simmons will, of course, start the season in Philadelphia. While the Sixers appear steadfast in their desire to keep Simmons, things change on a dime in the NBA. When push comes to shove and more offers start rolling in, don’t be surprised if Morey becomes more receptive to the idea of a Simmons-Harden swap.
The Rockets will likely waver on their demands, too. It is unlikely any offer from any team comes close to the value of Ben Simmons and three first-round picks. In fact, very few teams have an asset as valuable as Simmons, period. He is a 24-year-old All-NBA, All-Defensive player with five years on his contract. Houston will have a tough time beating that, especially if the only main suitors are Brooklyn and Miami.
Simmons is one of the most promising young players in basketball — even if his jumper looms unnecessarily large over ever conversation. He is the most versatile defender in the NBA and a generational playmaking talent. He creates more 3s for teammates than just about anyone, and in the modern NBA, that is more valuable than a league-average 3-point shot.
The Rockets should probably jump at Simmons, and the Sixers should probably jump at Harden. Expect the dynamic between the two front offices to change over time. Houston is no doubt reluctant to deal with Daryl Morey given the recent history, but when the day comes to finally trade Harden, Houston will need to consider the future of the franchise.
Simmons is a top-20 NBA player on a great contract and with room to grow. He can lead Houston into the future. James Harden is a perennial MVP who pushes Philadelphia to the top of the East as soon as the trade is complete.