The Houston Rockets should see Ben Simmons as an investment

Houston Rocketsr. Mandatory Credit: Michael Wyke/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Rocketsr. Mandatory Credit: Michael Wyke/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports /

The idea of Ben Simmons being traded to the Houston Rockets has been kicked around the proverbial NBA Twitter office for a week or so, this was started by Evan Dammarell who reported the Rockets are “seriously interested” in acquiring Simmons.

We all know the relationship between the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons is over. From nearly being traded for James Harden a year ago (which is pretty ironic now) and for lack of a better phrase, thrown under a bus by teammate Joel Embiid and coach Doc Rivers, the relationship between the team and star player in question is over.

I’m not here to make the hypothetical trade, there are some genuinely mind-boggling financial and contractual difficulties in making this deal work. However, the general principle would be the Sixers get John Wall to match the contracts and some combination of young talent and picks (there likely would be a third team involved but for the sake of simplicity… and my sanity, let’s just say a two-team trade).

Hypothetically the Rockets get to keep Christain Wood and Jalen Green (who would be untouchable anyway) and get to add Simmons as the forward next to Wood. This on paper is an amazing fit, you give Green a player who take over ball-handling reasonability’s when burdened, Simmons can create for both Green and Wood (and for the team) in the full-court and he can take the pressure of Wood and Green to defend given Simmons’ all-round defensive capabilities.

Why the Houston Rockets should trade for Ben Simmons as an investment

But that is not the main reason why I think the Rockets should go after Simmons. The main reason why I think the Rockets should is to try and rebuild Simmons’ value and try to trade him for more assets down the line.

Ben Simmons’ value is at an all-time low, and that is for a good reason; he struggled to be a productive player in a second-round playoffs series. However, in that same season he was a runner-up Defensive Player of the Year, an All-Star and averaged 14 points, seven rebounds and seven assists – is he a superstar? No, is he a damn productive All-Star player in the regular season? Absolutely.

To be blunt, the Rockets are not winning next season or probably the season after that. There is a 25-year-old All-Star at an all-time low value waiting to be added to a team that likes to run the court, has a stretch five and has no expectations.

The trick here is that the Rockets should look at Simmons as an investment, not as a cornerstone piece for the years to come (if he turns out to be a cornerstone piece, then keep him!). It’s questionable to consider Simmons a championship-level player in his current state – his coach said as much.

Despite that, he’s an excellent regular-season player, and if given the room and platform to do his best Giannis Antetokounmpo impression, teams might realize that “hey, there’s a seven-foot, playmaking, a defensive monster who with the right mentorship could become a rim-rattling force every night, maybe we can add him to this team and he can take on a prime Draymond Green-like role”.

The recency bias is doing a lot of damage to Ben Simmons’ value, and that’s expected. But if Simmons is on a new team, teams could convince themselves into the player described above. Now yes, it is a swing to bet on Ben Simmons getting his head right, but what do the Rockets have to lose? This is a rebuild and you could use Simmons to stabilize the team and not have a Sixers-like process for the first few years.

Looking over the landscape of the NBA you can see contenders where Simmons could be a good fit but the team is not sold on Simmons as a championship player. If the Rockets take on Simmons and build his value up the Nuggets, Jazz, Suns, Hawks and Mavericks all come to mind of teams that would love to have an optimized Ben Simmons in a few years.

You never know when a team might collapse and hit the rebuild button or when the next star demands a trade.

You could rightly argue back with two key points: The Rockets are tanking, Simmons would hurt that and help them win too many regular-season games, ruining the chance of drafting more stars? and will Ben Simmons actually ever become a productive shooter?

Starting with shooting, as long as he regains his confidence attacking the ring and becomes a decent free-throw shooter (like Giannis did) I think the shooting aspect is overblown – but it’s a legitimate concern if you are trying to sell him to a contender.

And as for the trade probably running their tanking chances? Yeah, I got nothing, good point.

My only counter is you might not draft someone as good as Simmons is, even accounting for his current flaws. This goes back to what I’ll affectionately call the Danny Ainge hoarding conundrum, holding onto all those picks (after the Tatum/Brown Brooklyn Nets picks) lands you *checks notes*, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Robert Williams III?

The Ben Simmons saga is endlessly interesting, there are so many angles to tackle it from and this is an angle that I haven’t seen discussed. I used the Houston Rockets as an example, I could envision the Cavaliers or the Kings doing a similar thing.

Am I betting this will happen? No, it’s just a thought experiment that I found too interesting not to write about.

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