Now Daryl Morey thinks he can land Harden in the offseason? Just make a trade already, man!

The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported on Tuesday that Morey is willing to wait until the summer to trade Simmons, because he believes that he has a chance to land Harden. So because Harden, logically, might want to be a free agent for the first time as an NBA player, Morey might be willing to punt on this season because he believes that he can flip a player who attempted 45 total field goals in a seven-game playoff series, for a former MVP.

Could the Nets use Simmons’ help on defense, absolutely. They are currently ranked No. 17 in defensive rating. Simmons not only could team with Durant and use they’re combined wingspan to make a human spider web around the paint, but also he can help with the ball handling and playmaking duties.

It sounds like a perfect fit, if Harden would still be on the Nets. Anyone who thought that trading for Harden last season was unnecessary, they have been proven quite wrong. In three seasons with the Nets Kyrie Irving has proven himself to be an unreliable player. Last season, Irving played in 54 games during a COVID shortened season — his most since arriving in Brooklyn —but that means he still missed 18 games in a 72 game season. Irving is currently only playing in road games because not even New York City law could convince him to get vaccinated against COVID.

Advertisement

The Eastern Conference is deeper than it has been in years. Regardless of the package of players and picks that the Nets would receive in a Harden for Simmons deal, it is a step backwards. If Harden has an open mind about signing with the Nets after 2023, then they need to do everything possible to keep him alongside Durant, because Harden has played in more games this season than either of the Nets’ two other superstar players — Durant is currently out with an MCL sprain.

And Morey needs to get real about this Simmons trade. The 76ers struggled early this season, and are currently the sixth seed with a .587 winning percentage. However, they are still only two games out of first place in the Eastern Conference with the Chicago Bulls and Nets dealing with injury. That means now isn’t the time to wait for a dream scenario that likely won’t happen next season. It’s time to make a move to contend for a championship right now while Embiid is playing the best basketball of his career, and is arguably the best player in the NBA right now.

Advertisement

While several teams have a shot at the championship, no one has clearly separated themselves from the pack. A great front office would make a move near the upcoming trade deadline to strengthen the roster around their best player to make a real push for a championship this season.

They wouldn’t be wishing upon a star far off in the galaxy. 

Without Paul George, a Kawhi Leonard return means nothing this year

With George’s status now up in the air, Kawhi Leonard’s return should also be pushed onto the back burner until the team knows more about PG’s status. Bleacher Report reported last week that there is a “strong possibility” of Leonard returning to the Clippers roster this season.

Leonard’s return from the ACL injury isn’t likely to change the Clippers’ standing in the West without George on the court. They’re currently in seventh place, tied with the Lakers at 21-21. With George in the lineup, they were able to stay afloat in the top six of the conference through December.

A Leonard return in March or April won’t be enough to jump-start this team past the top teams in the western conference. Phoenix, Golden State, Memphis, and Utah are all better than the Clippers. Kawhi coming back knocking the rust off over the first couple of weeks won’t be enough for the Clippers to advance in the postseason.

Leonard’s injury history and the fact he’s in no hurry to return until he feels he is 100% healthy are well documented. So, even if Kawhi says he’s ready, the Clippers should sit him down for the year if George can’t return at near 100% this season. So, if it looks like George isn’t going to be back before the end of March, then I’d go ahead and shut both guys down and look to next year.

Advertisement

We;llKevin Durant could have returned from his Achilles injury during the 2019-20 pandemic year once the NBA sent everyone to the Orlando bubble. KD opted not to rush anything and continued sitting until the next season (less than three months later), and he came back at 100 percent and balled out. Leonard is only 30 and in the prime of his career, although sometimes it feels like he’s already 35. When he’s right and mostly healthy, Kawhi is still a top-five player and a pretty damn good two-way player.

Advertisement

Knowing Leonard’s history presents all the more reason for LA to be cautious about his return because we know he will. And if George isn’t returning anytime soon, there really is no reason to press for a Leonard return. The Clippers have no real shot at beating the Suns or Warriors without Kawhi and PG on the court. Depending on the matchup, they might not get out of the first round without both players. I know fans hate hearing this, but both players have a long history of bad injuries at this point, and even pondering rushing either guy back just to get bounced in the first round seems preposterous.

This Clippers squad finally broke through last year and got bit by the injury bug in the process with Leonard going down against Utah. That seems to have carried over into this season with George now being out for an extended period. We should know more about both players in the coming weeks, but if I had to guess I’d say we probably won’t see the Leonard-George tandem again for quite a while. That decision might be what’s best for Ballmer’s business right now.