Minor freak out last night when Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski both took to Twitter to report that the Sixers had discussed including Ben Simmons in a deal that would send him to Houston and bring James Harden to Philadelphia.
This rumor has been out there for a few weeks now, though there didn’t seem to be anything concrete to latch on to. There was never any indication that trade talks had become serious, and it was reported that the Sixers weren’t interested in splitting up the All-Star pair of Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Here’s show Shams and Woj reported their news last night:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 17, 2020
“While the Sixers have signaled a willingness to include All-Star guard Ben Simmons in trade packages for Harden, those talks have come nowhere close to a deal, sources said.”
Okay, so the talks “aren’t fluid” and we are “nowhere close to a deal.” Got it.
A short time after Shams’ original tweet, he followed up with this:
And that’s consistent with what Morey has said in the press since his Philadelphia arrival.
So this could be any number of things. It could be Houston pushing something through the media to try to generate a better Harden offer. It could be another interested party trying to sink the Sixers by forcing Simmons’ name into the conversation. Maybe the Sixers circulated the fat James Harden photo the other day in an effort to lower his stock and throw a wrench into Houston’s efforts. I’m all about information brokering and conspiracy theories.
It’s interesting for Morey to insert himself into the conversation. The benefit of doing that is shutting this down and signaling to one of your All-Stars that he’s secure here and part of the plans moving forward. The possible negative is that you’re painting yourself into a corner if a Simmons/Harden trade does materialize, and you never know if it will. If the price drops for Harden and Houston has had enough, maybe they lower their demands and a Simmons deal makes sense. Then Morey is stuck and branded a liar if he ends up doing a deal he said he wasn’t going to do.
You see this with public relations every so often. The Sixers have come out and squashed a couple of reports via VP of Communications Dave Sholler. You probably remember that one time he called the Chris Sheridan hit piece a “steaming pile of trash” a few years back. That was great at the time, but then sometimes you’re wondering, ‘well, shouldn’t they call out every steaming pile of trash that’s published?‘ It sets a funky precedent, if that makes sense.
The most likely scenario is that nothing happens here and Doc Rivers gets a chance to coach Embiid and Simmons. I wouldn’t split those two up until a second coach has had a chance to make it work. Ben will continue to have value throughout the season, and over the next year or two, so they don’t have to move him now. If it doesn’t work out with Embiid and Rivers, they can always flip him later down the line for somebody not named James Harden.