Ben Simmons was absolutely on the table.
I know that the Rockets wanted nothing to do with Kyrie coming back in this deal.
Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
Hearing Ben Simmons was pretty ecstatic to not be traded from the Sixers to Houston for James Harden and believes his team is capable of bringing a title to Philadelphia. Doc Rivers is also a huge fan of Simmons and believes the best is yet to come with two-time NBA All-Star.
— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) January 13, 2021
Irving is a heck of a player when on the court, just 28 and locked in for two more seasons. But his ongoing absence makes establishing his value incredibly difficult.
(Maybe the Rockets did their due diligence into Irving and got scared off – which would be quite alarming for the Nets. Or maybe Houston simply didn’t want to swap one malcontent for even the chance of another.)
Simmons – a star himself, just 24 and locked in five more seasons – would’ve been the safer bet. He and John Wall would have fit poorly together, but Wall isn’t necessarily instrumental to the Rockets’ long-term future. Simmons would’ve been their franchise player.
By opting for Oladipo, Houston also got a huge haul of draft picks – four unprotected first-rounders and four first-round swaps.
Philadelphia’s offer almost certainly didn’t include all that. The Rockets could have also gotten some combination of Matisse Thybulle, Tyrese Maxey and other picks. But Houston preferred the offer that maximized the picks (and didn’t send out another positive-value player in P.J. Tucker and got the team out of the luxury tax).
We’ll see how that turns out.
Obviously, all eyes will remain on Irving and his confounding situation, anyway.
Simmons and Joel Embiid will continue their partnership with a better-fitting supporting cast. It’s obviously great news for Philadelphia that Simmons is so excited to stay. Sometimes, players are bothered by being put into trade talks.