If the argument is that the Sixers got less for Harden then they gave up to get him, that still comes down to both situations being untenable. But Harden was worth more than Simmons (by a lot) at the time. Morey then misplayed his hand with Harden's contract (especially considering the only thing the two-year deal and pay cut accomplished was to add players who didn't help them do any better last year in the end). Twice. But the real alternative to this deal would have been Harden opting out which would have been much worse (no cap space this season, no assets back) or signing him for real (also bad).
And yes, now they wait until the trade deadline, or at least Christmas, to turn around those picks. Though I wonder what the third team's involvement means (in terms of both timing and value).
Sixers didn't get the one thing they wanted obviously (Terence Mann) but got an extra pick and swap instead presumably.
Hopefully they will figure it out and what they get out of this as well as Tobias leaving (though they also have incorporate Maxey's new deal) makes Joel happy. Then maybe two or three more kicks at the can - all still depending on Joel. Unfortunately none of these years were truly "wasted" as I'm not sure any of the variables that could have gone differently - keeping Jimmy, Ben not busting, not getting Tobias in the first place - would have changed the fact that Joel has limitations. The only way to win a championship with him might be if he's 100 per cent healthy or if he's not the best player on the team, and Jimmy, Ben and Harden all weren't quite at that level during their time here. Few are, of course.