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Playing for the future vs capitalizing on the now

The 76ers had a chance to swap Ben Simmons for James Harden.

There comes a time where a team that accumulates enough talent must decide if they want to keep growing organically or do, they want to go all in. This is a tough decision for most of the executives in the front office because the wrong decision could cost them their job and set the franchise back. If a team decides to go the organic route, then they could miss their title contention window. The window for teams to win a championship closes quickly. The most recent example of this is the KD and Westbrook Thunder. They were a team full of young players that may have made the finals ahead of schedule. They built the team through the draft, and when it came time to pay those players James Harden was the odd man out. Instead of the owner paying the luxury tax for going over the salary cap, Harden was traded the season after to the Houston Rockets and the furthest OKC made it after he left was the conference finals. I understand that Harden was not the MVP caliber player he is now back then, but he was a key piece to that team. Who knows where that team goes if they re-sign Harden? Like every rule, there is an exception to the rule. There was a team like the San Antonio Spurs that competed for over two decades. There was also the 2015 Golden State Warriors that built up their team through the draft and won it all. They also were not stubborn when the time came to make moves. They signed Kevin Durant after losing to the Cavs in 2016 and became a super team. This is understanding that the team is all in and the only goal is to win a championship. The team did not have to make that decision, as Durant made it for them. Other teams in history have to part ways with assets to show the league they are serious about competing. The most notable team of recent history is the 2007-08 Boston Celtics. The Celtics had just finished the previous season with a record of 24-58. To be considered a contender, they would have their work cut out for them. The front office decided to complete two of the biggest trades in NBA history. They traded their future assets for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. That season they won a championship and another finals appearance in 2010. That trade is viewed as a success for the Celtics because they achieved the goal. The other side of that spectrum is the 2013 Brooklyn Nets. They went all in and traded all their assets for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. The trade ended up backfiring and the Nets were viewed as laughing stocks of the league. They lost out on multiple top-five picks because they were trying to be aggressive. The decision to go all-in was a decision multiple teams had to make. Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and the Brooklyn Nets traded multiple picks to acquire players they felt would help them compete for a championship. It has so fared paid off for the Bucks as they are currently playing in the Eastern Conference finals with the services of Jrue Holiday. We are still trying to figure out if it worked for the Nets. They acquired James Harden, but they were plagued with injury. The Nets outbid teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat, who believed the asking price was too high. As hindsight is 20/20, we see that both teams would have been a better team if they gave up current assets for the superstar. The 76ers especially could have used Harden. We see that in the fourth quarter, Joel Embiid would tire out because he had no one else to carry the scoring load. Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons are supposed to help alleviate the offensive responsibility, but they were no help. Everyone knows that Harden is one of the best scorers ever. Who knows were either team would be right now with Harden on their team? Another playoff team that is in full win-now mode are the Clippers. They gave up six future picks and a young player to get Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They are in year two and as Kawhi has a player option this summer, they must hope that making the conference finals will be enough for Kawhi to re-sign. The Bucks and Clippers counterparts in their conference finals are the Hawks and Suns, respectively. These two teams are teams that are ahead of schedule. Yes, they both made big moves this summer, but nobody expected either of these teams to be here. They made moves to bring veteran players in to show their young team how to win. They are exceeding expectations and have set themselves up for a bright future. We shall see at the end of the playoffs, which style wins out.

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