Updated: Jan 21, 2021
The quest for the Larry O'Brien trophy takes many different paths and twos runs to the title are never the same. Even the Chicago Bulls 6th championship with Michael Jordan had different opponents, adversity, and teammates. Speculating about the road the eventual champion will take, to reach the pinnacle of the sport come July 2021, is an impossible endeavor. Injuries, talent declines, and trades will shape this ongoing season and those who can adapt accordingly will enhance their chances to hoist the trophy.
James Harden is the current unhappy NBA star who has demanded a trade. This is never an enjoyable spot for the incumbent team to be in and maximizing the returns for a perennial MVP candidate with years left on their contract is imperative. They want a young All-Star, picks, and players for Harden, but the asking price is a bit high for a player who hasn't had to "fit" with his team for the last 8 years, his team had to "fit" with him. Ben Simmons has been the best available young player thus far and it is hard to imagine a better young player on the market, but the Rockets have stated that they would like a larger return.
Enter the Detroit Pistons who have a former All-NBA player in Blake Griffin. The Pistons are looking to the future and would love to turn current assets into a much more future focused reality. I found a trade that will leave all three teams better suited for their organizational future. Here is my proposed trade between the Pistons, Rockets, and 76ers.
2024 2nd Round Pick (from Detroit via Los Angeles Clippers)
2022 1st Round Pick (from Philadelphia Lottery Protected)
2026 2nd Round Pick (from Detroit)
2026 2nd Round Pick (from Philadelphia)
2021 1st Round Pick (from Detroit via Houston)
2022 2nd Round Pick (from Philadelphia)
2025 2nd Round Pick (from Houston)
The Sixers get Harden and move off of Tobias Harris's overpaid contract while keeping Matisse Thybulle, the defensive menace who they would definitely need if this trade actually happened. Their starting 5 would be James Harden, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Blake Griffin, and Joel Embiid. They would be a defensive disaster certainly, which is why they would need Thybulle, but man would they be able to score. Blake has shown the ability to facilitate and has grown into a league average 3PT shooter and can be the first starter back in to play with the second unit. Derrick Rose is the kind of steady veteran who could make a run at the 6th man award if he was on a good team. This team could beat Milwaukee and Brooklyn in a 7 game series and make a run at the Lakers. They only lose two 2nd round picks and one 1st round pick, that will probably be in the mid to late 20's.
Trying to reset because a team's star asks for a trade is hard place to work from and of all the super star trades of the last 5 years Ben Simmons is the best young player to be offered. Receiving two shooters to put along side of him is better than what they are getting offered right now. They also get one 1st round pick and two 2nd round picks. They get their star of the future and can start to build around him. They get to keep P.J. Tucker who is on an expiring contract and may lead to a late 1st round pick from a contending team. Houston loses a 1st round pick, sort of, the Pistons had originally protected the pick so much that it would have probably ended up a 2nd. This is how you reset.
Possibly the "loser" in the trade. They extend their long term future by accepting 4 years on Harris's contract ,but get back two 2nd round picks (also trade two 2nd round picks, but the picks they receive are closer to the present) and control over their own 1st round pick again. Maxey is showing some promise and can be a future asset to trade or keep, and considering he was drafted in the 1st round just a month and a half ago, he could be viewed as the equivalent to another 1st round pick . One can assume that Tom Gores doesn't want to bottom out because of the Jerami Grant and Mason Plumlee signings and Tobias Harris has been a better player than Blake since February 2019. This will give them a starting lineup of Killian Hayes, Josh Jackson, Tobias Harris, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee. I would predict that this team makes a play-in tournament run and either get a mid-late lottery pick or stumble into a 1st round exit. Not getting off long term money with Blake Griffin is unfortunate, but with Plumlee and Grant are on the books for the next 3 years it shouldn't be viewed as a huge sacrifice. They manage to get draft assets for Rose and Griffin which should be considered amazing. Losing a young shooter in Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk hurts the rebuild, but they get one back.
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