Despite weeks of NBA trade rumors, no team has won the James Harden sweepstakes yet. The Philadelphia 76ers are among the frontrunners but the asking price is one they aren't willing to pay, for now at least. Philly will likely have to part with Ben Simmons to land the 2018 NBA MVP but GM Daryl Morey has made it clear that the franchise won't trade him.
NBA Trade Rumors: Is a James Harden-Ben Simmons swap worth it for Philadelphia 76ers?
While it's not unusual for executives to go back on their word when it comes to trading players, the Philadelphia 76ers would do good to keep hold of Ben Simmons. Yes, the arrival of James Harden suggests an immediate impact on paper, but the broader picture also needs to be considered.
Here are three reasons why Philadelphia 76ers should not trade Ben Simmons in hopes of acquiring James Harden.
#1 Ben Simmons' upside
Yes, Ben Simmons still doesn't have a jumper that will worry teams when he's left open on the perimeter. But he's only 24 years old. He still has time on his hands.
Besides shooting, there aren't many things that the 2018 Rookie of the Year isn't great at. He's an elite defender whose size allows him to guard four positions. He's a proven floor general who's averaging eight dimes per game for his career. He's a triple-double threat every night despite his inability to score from distance.
In comparison, James Harden is clearly a more lethal option on offense, but there are some aspects of Ben Simmons' game that he will never replicate.
#2 James Harden a questionable fit alongside Joel Embiid
Having played three seasons together, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid have been able to cast aside differences in chemistry on the court. Embiid likes to have the offense run through him and Simmons is someone who can pass him the ball. While floor spacing has been a concern, things generally even out between the two.
In the meantime, James Harden isn't the most willing passer. He'll find the open man from time to time but he isn't actively looking to give up possession. He loves his isolation moves. The Philadelphia 76ers need to be wary of the fact that having Harden could potentially limit Embiid's impact offensively. The last thing they want is another disgruntled superstar.
#3 The intangibles of trading for James Harden
James Harden is owed $41.2 million for the 2020-21 season while Ben Simmons will command $30.5 million. The Philadelphia 76ers are well above the luxury threshold and trading for Harden will increase their tax bill monumentally.
More importantly, Philly would have to cough up multiple draft picks and another young player to get the deal done. They will be putting their future at stake for someone who could decline his player option in 2022 and become a free agent. In comparison, Ben Simmons is contracted until the summer of 2025.
Published 18 Dec 2020, 23:00 IST