Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 James Harden trades involving the Wolves

James Harden of the Houston Rockets could be a blockbuster trade target for the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
James Harden of the Houston Rockets could be a blockbuster trade target for the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers could be a Minnesota Timberwolves trade target. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

3 James Harden trades with the Minnesota Timberwolves: Philadelphia 76ers

As crazy as this trade may seem on the surface, this is arguably one of the simpler three-team trades for Harden out there.

The trade involves the Rockets acquiring Tobias Harris, James Johnson, and three first-round picks in exchange for Harden, who would end up in Philadelphia. Minnesota ends up in a max-salary swap with 76ers in order to get Ben Simmons.

For the Wolves, this trade makes a lot of sense. After previously acknowledging that there is no obvious No. 1 overall player in the draft, it’s been pretty clear that the Wolves have explored all kinds of options to move off of their first-overall pick. Ben Simmons would give the Wolves a unique look on offense, creating a dangerous trio with D’Lo and KAT that would be especially lethal with the three of them involved in the pick-and-roll.

Simmons would also help shore-up the Wolves defense with the ability and athleticism to guard multiple positions. This trade would be a no-brainer for the Wolves.

For the 76ers, the strength of this trade would depend on new coach Doc Rivers’ view on Simmons. If Rivers doesn’t see Ben Simmons as the future of the franchise, it would make a lot of sense to trade him away and acquire Harden, who is perhaps the best pure scorer in the league.

Beyond fit, however, it’s tough to argue keeping Simmons over the opportunity to acquire James Harden. Also, this trade allows 76ers to loosen up their cap sheet, which is currently limited by the contracts of Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Al Horford. By trading away Harris, the 76ers can free up some cap space to fill their roster with some complementary role players, particularly shooters.

For the Rockets, this trade adds value in a number of ways.

First, Tobias Harris adds the value of pure talent as a near-All-Star in the prime of his career. Harris hasn’t been a true offensive fit in the crowded front court in Philadelphia, and would benefit significantly in Houston’s spread offense.

Second, this trade adds value in future cap space, as James Johnson has an expiring contract worth nearly $16 million. Aside from the fact that Johnson is an outstanding defender and veteran leader, Houston would also be able to use the space from his contract next season to help sign big-name free agents to pair with a potential duo of Harris and Westbrook.

Finally, this trade adds value in the form of draft capital. Three first-round picks is a haul for just about any player in the NBA, especially when the package includes a No. 1 overall pick, which Minnesota would include in the trade.

The No. 1 would allow the Rockets to bring in a high-value prospect to help fill the immediate void left by Harden, while also having first-round picks in years to come to use for more players or as trade assets.