3 three-team trades that send Eric Gordon to the Philadelphia 76ers

Houston Rockets v Philadelphia 76ers
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Eric Gordon to the Philadelphia 76ers Trade #1

This is the trade that I think all parties could get behind. The Sixers get Eric Gordon and Harrison Barnes, the Rockets get Richaun Holmes, Terence Davis, and Georges Niang, and the Sacramento Kings get Tobias Harris and Philadelphia’s 2029 first-round pick. 

This trade sees the Sixers upgrade for this season and opens up a ton of cap space next offseason. Harrison Barnes and Tobias Harris are much closer than people realize. Here’s a blind taste test of their 2021-22 season stats. 

Per Game: Pts // RBs // AST // FTa //  FG%  //   3P% // eFG% Player A: 17.2 //  6.8 // 3.5  // 2.8  // 48.2% // 36.7% // 53.2% Player B: 16.4 // 5.6 // 2.4  // 5.4  // 46.9% // 39.4% // 55.4%

Who would you rather have? Player A scores a bit more and contributes one more assist and rebound per game, while Player B is a more efficient scorer and gets to the free throw line almost twice as often. Player A is Tobias Harris, and Player B is Harrison Barnes. 

The Sixers getting Barnes and Gordon is an upgrade over Harris. It gives them more shooting and bolsters their depth. The secret bonus is that Barnes is on an expiring contract, and because Gordon’s 2023-24 salary is non-guaranteed, they shed the $39.4 million owed to Harris next season. 

So why would the Kings move Barnes for Harris if they’re so close in production? Harris has consistently shown to be a better defender than Barnes, and the Kings are in desperate need of some defensive fortitude. It also helps that Harris is under contract for one more season because Sacramento isn’t exactly known for attracting and retaining free agents. They want to make the playoffs, and Harris helps a bit more than Barnes. Plus, a 2029 first-round pick is a nice little asset. 

The Rockets get two expiring contracts in Davis and Niang and Holmes for Eric Gordon. The Sacramento Kings live in basketball obscurity, but Holmes is a really good player. His presence instantly fixes the Rockets' backup center position and gives them a real lob threat. Holmes is also incredibly good from floater (54.9%) and mid-range (56.7%). He has three years left on his deal with a player option for 2024-25, but at under $13 million a season, it’ll remain a value contract. 

Eric Gordon to the Sixers is a fun idea, but just that

At the end of the day, Eric Gordon is unlikely to find his way to Philadelphia. Unless the Sixers absolutely gut their depth, the only player they’d be willing to move that opens up enough space to absorb Gordon’s $19.5 million deal is Tobias Harris, and Harris is a better player than Gordon.

It’s also likely that the Sixers value their 2029 pick highly and believe that holding onto it is vital. James Harden is 33, P.J. Tucker is 37, and Eric Gordon is 33, but Joel Embiid is 28, and Tyrese Maxey is 21. The Sixers are built to contend now but could open up another window in a few years as Harden, Tucker, and, hypothetically, Gordon age out. Moving their 2029 first-round pick would also take their 2030 first-round pick out of play and hurt their ability to support Embiid while he’s still in his prime. 

It would be romantic for Daryl Morey, James Harden, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker to win a championship together. They came so close to breaking through in Houston but ran into the best team of the 21st century. Gordon is likely to hit free agency in the summer of 2023, which is his best chance to reunite with his Morey, Harden, and Tucker to chase that elusive ring.

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