Ben Simmons is the better fit in Houston
The better player for the Rockets is unfortunately the better player for the Sixers. Ben Simmons is the real prize in any deal with the Sixers and they know that.
He is younger, more durable, and a completely unique player in a way that Embiid simply is not. His defense might not be as good but it’s more versatile and with the way the NBA is trending potentially more valuable over the long haul.
If James Harden is going to be a Philadelphia 76er then Ben Simmons has to be a Houston Rocket. His talents better suit the current roster and he’s a player who you can build around for a decade, while Embiid’s longevity is a serious concern.
The conventional wisdom paints Embiid as the better player but it is Simmons who has the true ability to change a franchise. The elite interior defense that Embiid provides can be patchworked together through low-cost free agents and his offense is not nearly as effective as advertised.
The Sixers, as currently constructed, are a contender and due to Embiid and Simmons’ age, they should remain in that conversation for the next eight seasons. Harden makes the Sixers better in 2020-21 but he makes their championship window far shorter.
The Sixers are rightly not motivated to swing a trade for James Harden at the moment. If that changes, the Rockets, to have their happy ending, need to get Ben Simmons in return.