If the Sixers were ever going to break up Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, they won’t do better than James Harden.
And if the goal is to win now, I think you might have to do it. Philadelphia has the players to make it happen, and since Jimmy Butler left, they’ve lacked the kind of perimeter shot creation I believe a team needs to be taken seriously in the postseason.
Also, the fit of Simmons and Embiid together has never been perfect, given that Embiid plays at a slower pace and takes up space, and Simmons is better at playing fast and doesn’t space. There’s a reasonable argument about who you’d rather part with, but in a vacuum, Harden is superior to either right now. Not to mention he’s durable. But when it comes to Simmons specifically, whose name is out there, it’s hard to imagine that missing jump shot is suddenly going to develop any time soon.
Now, I won’t pretend I know more about this situation than Daryl Morey. There’s certainly a compelling case that age and an extended window with a new regime makes it best to stand pat. He also would be more than well aware of what Harden is like behind the scenes.
However, from the outside looking in, despite not being a fan of how it has all gotten to this point, I think people are going too far with their Harden critiques. The Rockets are the only squad not to miss the playoffs since he got there and were a hamstring away from being the team to beat the super Warriors. So, I can’t totally believe Morey when he says he wouldn’t trade Simmons if a reasonable deal is actually on the table.
Unless, he doesn’t fully believe what he once said about Harden, that he’s a better scorer than even Michael Jordan.