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Houston Rockets: Grading the James Harden trades not taken

N.B. Lindberg
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets James Harden trade not taken: The Philadelphia 76ers trade

What was exactly offered by the Philadelphia 76ers for James Harden will never be known, but all reports indicate that Ben Simmons, some other players, and protected picks were on the table. As the Rockets 2021 second overall pick can attest to, pick and pick swap protections can be a lifesaver.

It’s no coincidence that the man who got the top-four pick protections for the Rockets in the Russell Westbrook trade, Daryl Morey, would ask for them in any potential Harden trade. The question that all Rockets fans are asking is, are pick protections with low probabilities of conveying and Ben Simmons more valuable than three first-round picks and four pick swaps with no protections?

Related Story. 3 Trades that send James Harden to the Sixers for Ben Simmons

The answer is almost assuredly yes. Ben Simmons, for all of his playoff struggles, is one of the best defensive players in the entire league and a capable offensive player. His lack of a jump shot is his lone weakness but it’s possible to build a playoff team around his skill set.

Simmons was the first overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft and has solidified himself as a top-30 player in the league. The chances that any of the Brooklyn Nets’ picks turn into a player that good are incredibly low.

The Rockets should have taken the Sixers’ offer if it included Ben Simmons and similar draft compensation even if there were light protections. It has been reported that the Rockets worried about how Simmons and Wall fit together, which is foolish when it is clear that Wall has no real future in Houston.

The Ben Simmons trade was the trade you make. You get the future assets. You get cap relief. You get an All-NBA player in their prime. All the Rockets got from the Nets were picks that you hope, one day, become a player as good as Simmons.

Houston Rockets Trade Grade (if they took Simmons): A

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