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August 25, 2020

Eytan Shander: Sixers should trade Ben Simmons — not because they want to, but because they have to

Opinion NBA
Joel-Embiid-Ben-Simmons-Sixers-76ers_021520 Brett Davis/USA Today Sports

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons will need to start playing better together if the Sixers want home court advantage this spring.

The Philadelphia 76ers are an unmitigated disaster right now — no thanks to ownership and the toxic culture created since the league-sanctioned ousting of Sam Hinkie. Once again, the deck of the Titanic will be shuffled around, making sure there will be difficulty in pinpointing who is actually responsible for all of these terrible decisions. So instead of pounding the pavement with my bare knuckles for the next 600 words, let me offer a solution to getting out of this real trouble.

If, when the phone rings about trading a major piece, it’s time to do more than just listen. It’s time to seriously think about what trading Ben Simmons can do for the immediate future of this team. Let me be perfectly clear, I do not want to trade Simmons. And it appears general manager Elton Brand doesn't want to either, as he told reporters on Tuesday. 

But I recognize how the league works and what could possibly get done as a result.

It’s actually more than a typical sports talk radio question, one that would get easily dismissed coming out of your speakers at 7:20 A.M., as the team must get out of bad contracts. Tobias Harris and Al Horford simply can’t be on this team moving forward and ignoring how difficult it will be to move them is asinine. The easiest way to move both – not one – but both would be to include a star in the deal.

At this point you have to ask what the goal of this team is? It's almost certainly not to bring in a new head coach only to figure out after a year or – even worse – two, that this team is going to struggle to fit together and with the rest of the league. There has to be something of value in return — and with Simmons included in the deal, that would almost certainly be the case. What we can't do is just expect this team to dump a ton of salary and be able to compete in free agency.

Is this city really a destination for stars? You think Jimmy Butler is the only star with an ego? I worry that a strong-willed individual who can come here and drop 25+ a night won’t fit with… Simmons. We’ve already seen it happen once. This is what The Process yielded, pieces you can move and still be competitive in return. That’s why you really have to start thinking about actively trading Simmons.

Again, for the people in the back, this is not because Simmons is bad or not talented or any other reason like that. It’s really because he is the only player who can return value in a trade. Big men – even those as dominant as Joel Embiid – aren’t going to get you near the return Simmons would. It’s just that type of league. There is more demand for Simmons right now than Embiid and recognizing that,  plus the direction of the league, is what a real GM does.

Don’t wait for the phone to ring; pick it up, see what you can get. Be active in the trade market and you might be surprised how different – yet competitive — this team can truly be. Trade Simmons with Horford and Harris in a three-team deal and see how you can maneuver through the free agent market afterwards, locking in a couple of cheaper shooters. 

But the bottom line remains, there is no real leadership on this team, even with the two young stars.

Do you honestly trust – again no referendum on their skill set – either Embiid or Simmons to be that leader down two games in the second-round next year? I don’t think we have enough data or experience to truly trust either of them. So, we see another season in which they make the playoffs, and frustrate the fanbase with an early exit, the whole time not really gaining more postseason experience. You have to lose deep once or twice before making it to the next level, and this team is going backwards.

I loved The Process and was truly upset the ownership group allowed the NBA to oust Hinkie. But that vision is dead, killed by Adam Silver, Josh Harris and the Colangelos. Now it’s time to look at making the jump to the Eastern Conference Finals — or, dare I say, the NBA Finals. It kills me to see the these loyal fans watch another failure in the playoffs. I want that building full and electric in the NBA Finals. No new head coach alone is going to do that, definitely not Ty Lue.

The bat phone is going to ring, and we don’t even know who’s there to answer it. Brand? Harris? Stan Van Gundy?? This whole thing is a disaster. The team makes everything difficult. They kept Brett Brown two years too long and took 36 hours to drag his body through the mud. Illogical at best.

Who’s Next?

I put a tweet out asking who people would want for the next head coach. I also put one out asking who people DON’T want as the new coach. For what it’s worth – and I am biased because I worked with and got to know him personally – I think Stan Van Gundy would be a perfect fit if, and only if, he gets control of the roster. That would take ownership not meddling in personnel decisions, but we can dream right?

Here are the tweets and more importantly the responses:

And this one as well because why not? 

Let’s hope it’s not Lue.

Wentz and the Over

Looking at some odds for the Eagles this year, I stumbled upon Carson Wentz O/U 27.5 touchdowns for the season. You can find more at and see who offers the best odds for this bet. The team is completely centered around more production out of the offense. And with a healthy Wentz, that means more scoring. Miles Sanders should be a nice bump in backfield receptions, especially helping out in the red zone. You have two big TE targets who should eat up receptions and be able to find the endzone. The addition of Jalen Reagor mixed with a healthier (we assume) wide receiver corps should also bump the number up.

Wentz has an amazing TD-INT ratio, highlighted last year when he was throwing to practice squad guys. So long as he is upright (I know, I know), Wentz and the revamped Doug P offense should put up some points. There is also the issue of COVID removing the preseason and true time to practice. Offenses who return a lot of key players – like the Eagles – should do well early on. Look for defenses to struggle in the first month, allowing for Wentz and that TD total to inch towards the over. It could be a 35-touchdown season for Wentz, and I’m here for all of it!

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Follow Eytan on Twitter: @shandershow

You can listen to Eytan on SB Nation Radio (Mon.-Fri. from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; weekends from 6-9 p.m.) and @foxphlgambler (Mon.-Weds., 6-8 p.m.). You can also catch him on FOX 29 Good Day.

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