Trade rumors involving James Harden have become a daily occurrence, and the latest of such indicate that the Sixers are willing to include Ben Simmons in a package for Harden—though that report has already been denied by Daryl Morey.
Believe what you may, but there’s ample reason to think this leak is coming from either of the Rockets camp or Harden camp in an attempt to recoup Houston’s fast-dwindling leverage. And of course, the obvious: if Simmons was really on the table a deal would be done by now.
Feel like the Ben Simmons being available leak is from Houston’s side to force Philly’s hand and gain leverage because it is seemingly tough to recover after it gets out that your 24-year-old All-NBA guard was included in a trade offer— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) December 17, 2020
There’s currently a healthy debate within the fan base around the prospect of trading Ben Simmons for Harden. While I‘m not necessarily against that—I’m honestly having trouble staking out an opinion—it would be a mistake to assume Houston can fetch an asset on the level of Simmons in return for Harden, and it’s hackish to suggest the Rockets are in a position to ask for more on top of him.
This would be to blatantly ignore the recent history of trades for disgruntled star players in this league. Let me put it this way: if Houston gets Simmons in a trade for James Harden, it would be the single greatest return a team has received in exchange for their disgruntled superstar in the entire history of the NBA—by a wide margin, too.
The Pacers long expected to receive a blue-chip asset in return for Paul George—until they didn’t. The Spurs long declined to move Kawhi unless they received a blue-chip piece in return—no such offers came. The Pelicans held firm on targeting a blue-chipper for AD—until they had to settle for a package of lesser pieces. In two of these three instances the star player threatened to sit out if they weren’t moved, and one did sit out. The Harden situation is rapidly deteriorating toward a similar conclusion.
I understand it’s difficult to wrap your head around the idea of a team trading someone like James Harden for pennies on the dollar, but that’s how it works in the age of player empowerment—leverage disappears in the blink of an eye, and before you know it grand visions of Ben Simmons dissipate into a package around someone like Brandon Ingram or Demar Derozan.
Everyone thinks they can/should/will/must get a blue-chip asset in return for their outward looking superstar—until they don’t. The Sixers and Daryl Morey need to be patient, because sooner or later Houston will arrive at that same point.