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Why a Ben Simmons and James Harden swap makes sense for both teams

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Just three days ago, The Athletic's Shams Charania reported that both the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets are engaged in dialogue for a potential Ben Simmons for James Harden swap. Yes, the unending saga around Simmons continues, but this time, it’s for Harden — a player that Daryl Morey has targeted and has a personal relationship with for quite some time now. 

This trade could actually be beneficial for both teams. For the Sixers, it gives them a chance to finally part ways with Simmons. For the Nets, well, while Simmons isn’t exactly better than Harden per se, it gives them a chance of retooling their roster. Because in the past two seasons, the Nets haven’t found success with their big three. 

So with all that said, here are three other reasons why a Simmons for Harden swap could actually help out both teams.

Simmons improves the Nets’ defense + playmaking

Simmons’ shooting struggles have been criticized, but people forget that the combo guard-forward is a perennial defender, especially on the perimeter. He was the runner-up for the Defensive Player of the Year award last season. Brooklyn could really use Simmons’ defense, especially if Kyrie Irving continues to be in and out of their lineup. The Nets haven’t been as bad on defense but at least Simmons’ presence will uplift them even more. 

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Removes the pressure for the Nets

While Harden has yet to confirm the rumors about the trade talks surrounding him, it’s fair to wonder if he’s passively been taking shots at the Nets. In the past few weeks, his body language and post-games quotes have been head-scratching. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported that Harden apparently might want to live in a new city, doesn’t like paying state taxes, and is annoyed at Irving for missing games due to his stubbornness with the vaccine. 

So to say that this is a major red flag for the Nets is an understatement. Simmons might not be the perfect player but at least he can replace Harden’s playmaking and passing ability, which works well with Kevin Durant’s game. At the very least, it’s better for the Nets to receive an all-star in Simmons instead of trading Harden for a bunch of role players. 

Sixers gets to maximize Embiid’s prime

The Sixers know that they can no longer mend the relationship of Embiid and Simmons. This is problematic for Philadelphia because they’re wasting Embiid’s prime years. Embiid has been putting up MVP numbers in the past two seasons but needs more help assembled around him. The Sixers need to act with more sense of urgency and have to be willing to give up the farm just to pair Embiid up with Harden. The only way they can maximize their franchise player’s prime years is if they pair him up with another All-Star — acquiring Harden is the solution to doing just this. 

If the Sixers do acquire Harden, they have to find a way to make sure Embiid and Harden fit well together. Embiid has been the Sixers’ first option for the past few years now, while Harden needs an offense that revolves around him.

Luckily, Sixers’ head coach Doc Rivers has experienced working with duos like Embiid and Harden in the past, specifically with Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan and Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. The Sixers will have to find a way to surround both these players with efficient shooters and defenders to make it work. Rivers will have to impose a pick-and-roll scheme for both these superstars — which already sounds dangerous if it turns out to be a success. 

Pairing a hungry Joel Embiid and James Harden will be the league’s newest and most dangerous duo. Wouldn't a Nets - 76ers matchup in the playoffs be spectacular? We think so too.

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