Sixers: Pros and Cons of trading for James Harden

Sixers, Joel Embiid, James Harden rumors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Sixers, Joel Embiid, James Harden rumors (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Sixers fans everywhere have been monitoring this James Harden drama with differing hopes for the results. Many want Harden next to Joel Embiid, and many others believe that adding Harden would hurt this team and our chances.

I’ve been on the fence with this whole ordeal, as I can see the benefits, but I can also understand the hesitancy. To help myself and everyone else in Philly, I made a Pros and Cons list. Here are four “Pros” and four “Cons” regarding James Harden coming to the “City of Brotherly Love.”

Sixers trade for James Harden: PROS

  • 1. Harden blows the roof off of the Sixer’s ceiling as a team

There are a lot of unknowns in this whole situation, but this is not one of them. If James Harden comes to Philly and performs as even a fraction of himself, this team can go miles farther than it would have beforehand. Having two of the best 15 or so players in the NBA on one roster is a surefire way to make the finals. **Unless, you know, one of those players is Russell Westbrook**

  • 2. Neither Embiid nor Harden played in a center/guard duo of this caliber

Here’s a list of the all-star players James Harden’s ever played with: Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, old Blake Griffin, washed Dwight Howard, and more washed LaMarcus Aldridge. None of those guys are anywhere near what Embiid is doing this season. When James was at his best, he ran pick-and-rolls for months with Clint Capela during his MVP run. Now picture him running those same pick-and-rolls with The Process himself.

Joel also hasn’t played with a guard like James. One of the best things about a peak James Harden is his ability to do quite literally anything on the offensive end of the court. Embiid has never played with someone like that in his career, and I’m curious to see the results of that pairing.

  • 3. Imagine the Pick-and-Rolls

Close your eyes for a second; wait, don’t, I need you to read this next part. Just picture what I’m describing in your head. In a red, white, and blue jersey, James Harden brings the ball up the court for the Sixers. He hesitates, waiting for Joel to set a screen on the left elbow, and then explodes into the paint as Joel pops to the arc. Harden then dishes the ball to his left to a waiting Danny Green in the corner, who swings the ball around to Joel. Joel then pump fakes the three, using his freakish first step to blow by his man and dunk on his head.

Fun right?! That’s what I can picture in this hypothetical universe that we imagine at the moment.

  • 4. Harden fills the holes left by Ben Simmons’ vanishing act

After this summer, I was apprehensive about my Sixers and the holes in our game. Simmons filled a vital role in our team, mainly in defense, transition, and playmaking. All credit to Doc Rivers and his coaching staff because they have managed to pull playmaking out of every facet of our offense this year, mainly in Harris, Embiid, and Maxey. Adding Harden kills any worries that I, or anyone watching this team, may have about our playmaking and transition offense.

Let’s face it, without Ben, this team plays a much slower pace of basketball, but it’s one more suited to this unit. Adding James would allow us to change speeds and either play at his pace or Joel’s, which would be good for the Sixers.

Sixers trade for James Harden: CONS

  • 1. What version of James Harden would we be getting in a trade?

This is my biggest hesitancy with sending Simmons to Brooklyn, assuming, of course, they want him. Harden, over the last two years, has looked like someone’s drunk uncle at a party, the next iteration of Steve Nash, the best player in the NBA, and also a toddler who doesn’t want to be awake. My question is, which one is coming to Philly? That could decide whether or not we can capitalize on Embiid’s prime and our championship window.

  • 2. Does he fit in the Philly locker room?

No one can know what happens in an NBA locker room, so it would be unwise to assume. But it would also be boring to not assume, based on what we can see.

Here’s what we know. Brooklyn is amid a 9-game skid, and it all started when the James Harden rumors first dropped. Harden leads their team in points (excluding KD, who’s been out for a while), assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks per game. Multiple reports have stated that he is (or possibly was) a very healthy presence in their locker room. But when the news came out of his possible move to Philly, he hadn’t done anything to get in front of it.

Do the Sixers want to add that to their locker room, which has seemingly flourished under Tobias and Embiid, and without Ben? It’s a factor to be considered.

  • 3. What would the Sixers have to give up for Harden?

That’s the kicker. Recently, the Nets have said that they will not accept any Ben Simmons trade unless it includes Seth Curry. If I were Daryl Morey, that would make the trade entirely off the table. Removing Seth from this offense that has risen to new peaks with him is asking to crash and burn.

The other two pieces that everyone brings up in Sixers’ trade talks are Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey. I don’t believe the Sixers should make any trade that has one of the three of them in it, and they add too much to a team that has been uber-successful of late, and we can’t afford to lose them.

  • 4. Can Harden play in the Sixer’s system?

Joel Embiid has the highest usage rate in the NBA. Every play in the Sixer’s offense runs through him, and it’s been working well. James Harden has the 19th highest usage rate in the NBA this season, and for this trade to work, both of those numbers have to get way lower.

He would also have to learn a new skill, moving without the ball. Wild. The Sixers are at their best when Joel is running the offense, and small and fast shooters are running around him looking for open shots. That would be adjusted with Harden, but they would have to find some balance where both players can move without the ball.

Now that’s a lot of information, and I guess we have to wait and see if it is relevant. Stay tuned for the trade deadline this Thursday.

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