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The Worst Trade In NBA History: Houston Rockets Could Have Landed Ben Simmons For James Harden, But Ended Up With 20 Games Of Victor Oladipo, Some Role Players, And Late First-Round Picks

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The Worst Trade In NBA History: Rockets Could Have Landed Ben Simmons, But They Traded James Harden For 20 Games Of Victor Oladipo, Some Role Players, And Late First-Round Picks

The James Harden blockbuster trade was one of the biggest NBA trades in recent memory. There were four teams involved in that trade, and it seems like most franchises got what they wanted. The Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers got young talents in Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen, and the Brooklyn Nets managed to build their superteam. But the trade return for the Houston Rockets seems less than ideal for a player of Harden's caliber.

Victor Oladipo was traded to the Miami Heat recently, for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley. Originally, it seemed like the Rockets wanted to compete this season, as they chose to accept Victor Oladipo, rather than the younger Caris LeVert. However, the Rockets ended up being one of the worst teams in basketball, and Oladipo got traded for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley.

The Victor Oladipo trade means that the Houston Rockets' return for Harden doesn't look impressive at all. They got some role-players in Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley, Dante Exum, and Rodion Kurucs (Kurucs was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks later). They have some pick swaps and some first-round picks, but those picks are likely to be late first-round picks due to the Brooklyn Nets potentially being good for years to come. NBA fans have already blasted the mediocre return that the Rockets got; they were also joined by a prominent analyst in Bill Simmons, who notably called the return "a s*it sandwich"

What makes the return worse, is knowing that the Houston Rockets had other options on the table. The 76ers were reportedly close to a deal for Harden. Jack Baer reported on the potential trade package.

The Philadelphia 76ers, one of Harden’s most preferred destinations, were interested enough in acquiring the disgruntled Harden that they put two-time All-Star Ben Simmons on the table, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Sixers general manager Daryl Morey had previously shot down talk that Simmons was available in trade talks for Harden.

In addition to Simmons, the Sixers also offered defensive ace Matisse Thybulle and an unknown amount of draft pick compensation.

The Houston Rockets could have gotten a bonafide franchise centerpiece in Ben Simmons. Ben Simmons is a multi-positional defender, and one of the top playmakers in the league. Simmons is a multiple-time All-Star and would have been a great player to build around for the Rockets. Matisse Thybulle could have been another defensive prospect that the Houston Rockets could have developed, and they would end up still having draft compensation from the 76ers. Instead of betting on a bunch of draft prospects to be successful, they could have had a ready-made All-Star on their roster.

The return that the Houston Rockets got was extremely underwhelming when we think about the caliber of player James Harden is. Other superstars have been traded for more, and it seems crazy to think that the Rockets would refuse a potential superstar talent in return. Ben Simmons would have been a clear-cut talent that they could build around, and potentially make the face of their franchise. While it remains to be seen how the Rockets rebuild goes, trading for Ben Simmons seems like a huge missed opportunity.