Trade 1: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry + picks for Harden
Ben Simmons is one of the league’s best two-way players and at only 24-years-old he hasn’t even entered his prime. His combination of size, speed, and playmaking allow him to positively impact every facet of the game and make him a threat to secure a triple-double every night.
He remains a limited outside shooter but he is elite at getting to and finishing at the rim. To put in perspective how talented he is, one only needs to look at his per 100 possession ratings.
Last season, Simmons’ posted a 116 offensive rating and a 106 defensive rating per 100 possessions, when the league average mark for teams was 110.6. Simmons’ +10 net rating last season was 0.5 points better than the Milwaukee Bucks’ +9.5, who embarked on a historically dominant regular season.
Simmons is young, productive, and under contract at reasonable prices for the next few seasons, in other words, he is incredibly valuable. The Sixers would love to do a straight swap of Simmons for Harden but that won’t fly when half the league is chasing after the three-time scoring champ.
Also, the Rockets and Sixers can’t simply swap Ben Simmons for James Harden because of their salary cap situations. Both teams are far above the league’s $109 million salary cap this season with the Sixers $13.2 million above the luxury tax.
What this means for the Sixers is that they cannot add any substantial amount of salary to their ledger. Simmons’ $30.5 million salary for next season is $10.7 million less than Harden’s $41.2 million.
For any deal to work the Sixers will have to send out at least $38.2 million in salary. This is where Seth Curry’s deal becomes the catalyst to get a deal done.
Curry’s $7.8 million salary would see the Sixers send back $38.3 million to the Houston Rockets to just squeak their way to league office approval. While Simmons is the marquee player in this deal, Curry, in his own right, is a very good player.
Last season Curry averaged 12.4 points per game on 45.2-percent 3-point shooting. His efficiency behind the arc was the third-best in the league last season and when the three-years and $24.5 million remaining on his contract is factored in he represents a fantastically valuable player.
The Sixers own all of their draft picks from 2021 to 2024 and they’ll have to part with at least two of them to secure a deal. Will the Rockets favor their 2021 and 2023 picks or their 2022 and 2024 picks?
The Rockets will likely look to grab a few pick-swaps as well. The Sixers will be good this upcoming season, but Harden is 31-years-old and the team could be in decline as soon as 2024 which might make their far-out picks more appealing to the Rockets.
This would be a good return for Harden but not a great one. The Rockets know there’s more to pillage from the Sixers roster and they’ll be sure to get every last drop of value.
Next: Trade 2