Stephen A.: Daryl Morey Must Consider 76ers' Ben Simmons for James Harden Trade

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 29, 2020

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) drives toward the basket as Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 8, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Stephen A. Smith is not the president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers. That distinction will reportedly belong to Daryl Morey in the coming days, per multiple reports.

But if he was in Morey's position, the first thing Smith would do is attempt to bring James Harden to Philadelphia, no matter the cost:

"If I'm the Philadelphia 76ers, and the goal is to get to The Finals... I'm Daryl Morey, and the first thing I'm trying to do is get James Harden to become a Philadelphia 76er. Even if it means me trading Ben Simmons. Lemme say this again: I love me some Ben Simmons. I know how elite defensively he is. He's only 24 years of age, 6'10", plays defense the way that he does, the basketball IQ, the basketball ability. But I would remind everybody while we sit here and we lament the state of affairs with the Houston Rockets, let me remind everyone that for the last three years James Harden has averaged 30, 36 and 34. When you talk about Harden with a big man the quality of Joel Embiid, a healthy Joel Embiid, you're talking chip."

There's no question that presently Harden is the better player and would be a great offensive fit next to Embiid. He would give the Sixers the halfcourt shot-maker they've desperately lacked in recent seasons. A Harden-Embiid pick-and-roll would be nasty. 

But Simmons is also seven years younger than Harden, arguably the most versatile defender in the NBA, an elite passer himself and one of the most devastating forces in transition the NBA has. Yes, there are still huge questions about his jumper (or lack thereof), but it seems early for the Sixers to give up on Simmons, even for a player of Harden's caliber. 

It would be the ultimate win-now move. But if Simmons reaches his full potential, it might look rather hasty in hindsight. And all of this might be a moot point if the Rockets aren't interested in dealing Harden in the first place, of course.   

Video Play Button
Videos you might like