Gelb: 76ers should not trade Ben Simmons for James Harden

If the 76ers want to acquire James Harden and form a Big Three, that makes sense, Zach Gelb says – but not if they have to give up Ben Simmons in the process

Zach Gelb
December 18, 2020 - 9:01 am
Ben Simmons 76ers

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The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly interested in acquiring James Harden from Houston, which would make a lot of sense. After all, the Sixers have two young stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, so adding a former NBA MVP to create a Big Three would be a great move for Philadelphia.

But not if the Sixers have to give up Simmons in the process.

“If I’m the Sixers, yes, James Harden is a better player than Ben Simmons,” Zach Gelb said on The Zach Gelb Show. “It does not make sense if your goal is to win a championship, though, to give up Ben Simmons in order to acquire James Harden. And here’s why: No. 1, look at what James Harden has had to work with before. He’s been in dynamic-duo situations.”

And that, as we all know, has not worked out well.

“Him and Dwight Howard, didn’t work out. Him and Chris Paul, didn’t work out. Him and Russell Westbrook, didn’t work out,” Gelb said. “So yes, I understand why some Sixers fans may say, ‘Go get James Harden. We need shooting. He’s a great shooter.’ I get that – and Ben Simmons can’t shoot a jump-shot or is refusing to shoot a jump-shot. To give up Ben Simmons, who is seven years younger and has a lot of potential, to trade for him and actually expect your team to take a massive step forward, that’s where the Sixers would have me lost.”

Simmons, 24, averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists and 7.8 rebounds in 57 games last season. While he is not a good perimeter shooter – he is 2-of-24 from three-point range in three seasons – he remains one of the better all-around players in the league. 

“If I want James Harden and if I’m a Sixers fan, yes, it makes sense [to acquire Harden], but it doesn’t make sense if it means giving up Ben Simmons,” Gelb said. “Are you to expect as a Sixers fan that James Harden partnered with Joel Embiid is going to get you over the top? How many times has James Harden been to the Finals in Houston when he’s been asked to be part of a two-man team?”

Answer: zero.

“If he goes to Philadelphia and you give up Ben Simmons to do so, you’d be asking him to be part of a two-man team,” Gelb said. “So if the Sixers want to get James Harden and not give up Ben Simmons, that makes sense. That I’m all in for. If the Sixers want to give up Ben Simmons to get James Harden for this upcoming season – where you’re not going to be able to add a third star to that mix – that makes zero sense to me. I’d much rather go with this young core of Simmons and Embiid, that have problems, and eventually find that third piece – not break up that core to bring in another guy who has not gotten his teams over the top in the big spot when the game is on the line and their season is on the line.”