The Perfect Al Horford Trade Destination Exists for Philly, but it’s Going to Cost Them…

As Philadelphia transitions from a tumultuous season to an uncertain offseason, many questions about their future loom. Is Doc Rivers the right fit to coach such a puzzling roster? What does Daryl Morey have planned? Can Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid fit together? Will Ben Simmons get over his phobia of shooting threes? And is there anybody out there that is willing to trade for Al Horford?

On the surface, it appears there would be no suitable trade partners for Philly willing to take on their failed free agent signing from last offseason. Who would want a 34-year old center set to make $81 million over the next 3 seasons who just averaged 11.9 points per game, his lowest output since 2008?

Well, how about the Warriors in exchange for the small price of the 2nd overall pick?

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a lunatic. You’d be right, but hear me out. If the Sixers really want to dump Horford and build around Embiid, their best option is to ship Ben Simmons off to Golden State along with Horford for some serious value in return.

So, this gets a little complicated. For one thing, this trade can’t happen right away. It’s going to have to happen in a few steps. First, the Warriors have to use their $17 million dollar trade exception.

Unfortunately, a trade exception can’t be traded alongside any other players in any deal. It can be used to absorb one contract at or below its value and that’s it. However, the Warriors can use it to trade for a player whom they could then turn around and trade at a later date. It could be anybody, but just for the sake of this article, let’s say that player is JJ Redick. It’s also worth noting that the Warriors have to use this trade exception this offseason as it’s set to expire likely at some point in November, although no exact date has been set as the NBA continues to try to figure out their offseason calendar.

After that happens, the Warriors will have to wait 60 days to trade Redick again. They’ll also have to hold on to whoever they take with the 2nd overall pick for 30 days before they can trade that player. After all of that waiting, this is what the deal could look like:

76ers get:
Andrew Wiggins
Player taken with the #2 overall pick
JJ Redick

Warriors get:
Ben Simmons
Al Horford

Somehow, the money just barely works. With Ben Simmons’ extension set to kick in for the upcoming season, it’s tough for Philly to send nearly $60 million out the door to just one team, but Golden State has the assets to absorb both contracts thanks to that trade exception created in the Andre Iguodala deal.

Before you start saying the Warriors would never jump through all these hoops to plan for a trade which wouldn’t even be possible for months, remember what they did with D’Angelo Russell last season. In many ways, it was the exact same situation. They aren’t even putting themselves in all that much of a compromising position with these moves. Even in the event that this trade doesn’t come to fruition, Golden State would likely be happy to keep JJ Redick and a talented young player on their roster.

For the Warriors, they get to pair Simmons and Horford with Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry. There are no two better teammates for a player that can’t shoot than the Splash Brothers. The floor will be spaced for Simmons to drive to the paint which he couldn’t always do with Joel Embiid in the middle for the 76ers. Simmons provides the Warriors with an All-Star caliber player that can both help them win now and lead them into the future beyond the Curry era.

Horford’s screening and playmaking fits in well on a Warriors team that prioritizes ball movement. He’s also still more switchable than most centers which the Warriors should like. He’s overpaid and he won’t be worth the contract, but Golden State works fit wise. Horford and Green aren’t the best shooters, but they won’t clog up the paint as badly as Joel Embiid does.

For the 76ers, this deal assumes they’re at least willing to trade Simmons for the right deal. It’s unlikely they’ll get a better offer than this. Taking back Wiggins is a bit of a tough pill to swallow, but they can hope that pairing him with his old college teammate, Joel Embiid, will bring back some of the magic he showed at Kansas that made him worthy of the #1 overall pick. At the very least, perhaps Embiid will be excited to reunite with his old college pal. As bad as Wiggins’ contract is, it’s not as bad as Horford’s and he’s a better fit with the Sixers current roster. Getting back Redick and the 2nd overall pick all while dumping Horford gives Philadelphia both cap relief, a significant young asset and a familiar face who’ll provide some much-needed shooting.It’s a wild idea and extremely unlikely, but you don’t bring Daryl Morey in to clean the bathrooms. He’s in Philly to make things happen and in the NBA, anything can happen. Predicting these kinds of moves is like trying to win the lottery, but that’s what makes it so fun. At the end of the day, it at least works logistically which is pretty impressive if I do say so myself.

Photo: (Matt Rourke – AP Photo)

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