2. Harden for Simmons and Tobias Harris, third team takes Westbrook
This deal would be complicated and probably the single largest transaction in the history of the NBA. The deal would be a godsend for Philadelphia to get Tobias Harris and the $149 million remaining on his contract off their books.
The Rockets would have to find a taker for Russell Westbrook, which could be a challenging task, but if they aren’t looking for a cache of assets, they could find a team willing to make it work. The Sixers would have to include picks to appease Houston for taking on so much salary and for blowing up an MVP backcourt, but both sides might find themselves very pleased with the results.
Why would the Rockets do a trade like this? Well, it would allow them to continue to play the micro ball lineups they ran out without actually being all that small. A lineup of Simmons, Robert Covington, Harris, P.J. Tucker, and another shooter would be a fun team that could switch everything on defense and still hold their own in the paint.
Simmons is the perfect micro ball non-shooter. He can penetrate from the perimeter and also set up shop in the post if he gets the right matchup.
The only reason the Sixers haven’t tried micro ball, to get the best out of Simmons, is because of how good Embiid is. This makes the Rockets worse, but not by too much, and will give them the ability to build around a dynamic young player. If they get enough picks through trading Harden and Westbrook, they could have a playoff team in the present, and enough picks to build a core meant to compete down the line.
Next: Trade No. 3