Trade 2: Ben Simmons & Tobias Harris + picks for Harden, Eric Gordon & P.J. Tucker
The old adage of addition by subtraction applies to this trade. The Rockets attach Eric Gordon’s contract to Harden and the Sixers tie Tobias Harris to Ben Simmons in a swap of superstars and bad contracts.
While Harris has been lamented as being overpaid, he has been for a long time and remains a very good NBA player. Over his past five seasons he has averaged 17.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game on 47.4-percent shooting and 37.7-percent 3-point shooting.
Harris is not an MVP but his 33.4 Win Shares over the past five seasons averages out to 6.7 Win Shares a season. That makes Harris a strong bet to be around a top-30 player in the league and he rarely misses a game.
Even though he has been traded three times in the past five seasons he has averaged 78.4 games a season and that includes last season’s truncated schedule. Harris was not worth the five-years and $180 million the Sixers gave him but he is no scrub and the first year of the deal is already in the bag.
Remember, Eric Gordon was horrible last season and produced 0.5 Win Shares last season compared to Harris’ 6.2. If the Rockets had had those five extra wins they would have finished the season with 49 wins and tied with the Clippers for the two seed in the West.
Bad contracts are almost always moved for another bad contract but Harris is younger and better than Gordon. unfortunately, the Rockets would have to part with P.J. Tucker to make the salaries work but at 35-years-old and in the last year of his contract he likely doesn’t factor into the Rockets’ future plans.
Since the Rockets are taking Harris’ contract off the Sixers’ hands they’ll ask for at least two picks and pick swaps down the line. This trade sets the Rockets up to compete in the West for the next few seasons while they look to retool their roster as Ben Simmons enters his prime.
Each season Harris knocks off his contract his value will go up and if the salary cap rebounds his salaries in the final years will be more palatable. Gordon is set to make $16.8 million next season compared to Harris’ $34.8 million and while no one would pay Harris that money now, if you subtract out Gordon’s money Harris’ represents only $18 million in new salary.
Using James Harden to help offload Eric Gordon’s contract is not the headline-grabbing move that fans want when their superstar is traded but it is a smart way to move a negative asset. Value is value and moving negative value is a net gain, remember, it’s as simple as addition by subtraction.
Next: Trade 3