The tide has shifted in the eastern conference of the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons finally got his wish. After he broke down in the playoffs, Simmons made it clear that he wanted out of Philly. After years of failing to improve his game, the team agreed to trade one All-Star for another. James Harden: became frustrated with Kyrie Irving not being vaccinated and only playing games on the road demanded a trade. So now that the dust has settled, who was the winner and loser?
Loser: Nets short term
How will Simmons’s mental health be? Harden was healthy. While his play dipped, he was near a triple-double player. The 76ers are going for the title this year! The Nets will have too many moving pieces to be a favorite. KD and Joe Harris are hurt, Kyrie is a part-time player, and Ben hasn’t played all year.
Winner: James Harden/ Joel Embiid
James brings the scoring and shooting prowess that Ben lacked. He should bounce back to form, just like last year after the Rockets trade. Harden is away from a situation he no longer found desirable and to a team where he can join an MVP candidate and a (mostly) ready-made roster. Finally, the Sixers get a guard who can take some of the scoring load off Embiid. When engaged, Harden plays solid defense. Harden and Embiid mesh may be a question mark. Hard to see that not working well. The pick-and-roll action between the two should be a thing of beauty.
Winner: Ben Simmons
He was so committed to leaving the 76ers entire, willing to give up $19 million to prove how serious he was. He had a problem handling criticism and the Philly media. Now he moves to a team in New York with not nearly as much heat as the Knicks. He gets the chance to slide in seamlessly as a facilitator alongside primary scoring options Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Simmons can play defense and be the third fiddle as KD and Kyrie deal with the media as established champions who have been there and done that. Also, there is Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge. They are two savvy vets that can help him along the way.
Loser: Philadelphia 76ers long term.
The 76ers went from wanting a Superstar, players, and draft picks; to the ones to give up that haul. A big blow to the roster is the loss of Seth Curry. Curry is one of the best 3-point shooters. He adds firepower to the Nets while Joe Harris deals with injury. The 76ers shipped out a younger star; two first-round draft picks. Harden, 32, had a player option worth $47.37 million for next season before the deal. The Bread would like to pick up hos option and sign an extension. At this point, Harden would be looking at a total of $270 million over the next five seasons. Given his production, this season, and seemingly advanced age, Harden’s next contract could end up being an albatross for the 76ers. Harden seems to have three years of high-level basketball left.