First of all, at this stage of their respective careers, James Harden is a better player than Ben Simmons. James Harden may also be a better fit to play alongside Joel Embiid (he may be an even better fit playing next to Simmons, for the record).
The jury is still out on if either Harden or Simmons can impact winning in the playoffs, but all of this is beyond the point.

The NBA is a star-driven league and each franchise takes on the identity of its star players. Without stars a team has no identity, an example of this would be the Charlotte Hornets.

When a team is in a state of flux and the star players are repeatedly changing the team’s identity becomes unclear, just look at the Oklahoma City Thunder.

In this era of increased player movement, stars can and do play for a number of teams throughout their career, but star players just mean more to the city that drafted them.

No matter how many titles LeBron wins in LA he will always mean more to Cleveland, and despite the fact that he was the best player in the world during his time in Miami the Heat were always Dwyane Wade’s team. Wade will always be remembered as a Miami Heat player, being more connected to that franchise than even his hometown team the Chicago Bulls. Allen Iverson played for three other franchises but will always be a Philadelphia 76er.

Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are also 76ers.

Photo: Cato Cataldo/ NBAE/Getty Images

They are a rare commodity in this day and age in that they are star players who truly seem to want to stay with the franchise that drafted them. One could count on a single hand the number of teams who have built successful playoff contenders around multiple star players who have been with the same franchise their entire career, Boston, Denver, Golden State, Portland, and Philadelphia.

The Warriors are the most interesting example in that they won a championship with homegrown players then acquired a star in Kevin Durant only for him to become unhappy that, among other things, Golden State was always going to be Steph Curry’s team.

If the Sixers are to trade Simmons for Harden they run the risk of becoming like Brooklyn or the LA Clippers, teams that chase stars then allow them to hijack the franchise in order to appease their every whim.

Stars brought in from other teams won’t care about the franchise or the city in the way Embiid and Simmons do, they’ll come into their new team and demand the front office burn through future assets to make them competitive immediately then if it doesn’t work they move on.

The fans connect with Simmons and Embiid because they have seen them develop throughout their entire careers, without players like that it essentially becomes like the Jerry Seinfeld joke of cheering for laundry.

James Harden would immediately help the Sixers win more games but he’s probably never going to help the team win a title.
Bringing him in may cost more than just Ben Simmons, by giving away homegrown stars to bring in hired guns may impact the connection between fans and the team.

Featured Image: Cato Cataldo/ NBAE/Getty Images
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