February 02, 2022
UPDATE [11:18 a.m.] — Bradley Beal, one of the players who was atop the list of names of potential Ben Simmons trade targets had slipped from view in recent weeks and months with both sides seemingly committed to keeping the veteran guard in Washington.
But, just over a week out from the trade deadline, a new report from David Aldridge of The Athletic suggests that Beal might not be as untouchable as once thought. While Aldridge says the Wizards remain steadfast in their unwillingness to trade Beal, there is less certainty than ever that he'll re-sign in Washington this summer when he can become an unrestricted free agent. Losing Beal without getting anything back would be a worst-case scenario for the Wizards, so maybe that prompts them to do something before the deadline.
The team’s nosedive since its hot start has frustrated Beal, leaving him less sanguine about just taking the big bag next summer and staying in Washington. For the first time in a long time, sources close to Beal indicate he’s not rejecting out of hand the notion of trade elsewhere — even though his preference is to remain with the Wizards. Neither Beal nor his representatives, though, have officially asked for him to be moved with a week left before the deadline. [theathletic.com]
As it specifically relates to the Sixers, it shouldn't surprise you that they popped up in this story as a potential landing spot of Beal, but it's what Daryl Morey seems unwilling to trade that's most surprising...
Philadelphia has made no secret that Beal is on its short list of players for whom it would trade disgruntled guard Ben Simmons, who has sat out all season. But the 76ers won’t include an additional piece, such as exciting young guard Tyrese Maxey, along with Simmons in a potential trade for Beal, per league sources. Philly has similarly held firm that it won’t put third-year forward Matisse Thybulle, a terrific wing defender, in a Simmons package. [theathletic.com]
Perhaps that has more to do with the fact that Beal would essentially be a rental without some sort handshake deal in place for a long-term extension. And in that case, it would probably make some sense not trade away one of your best young players — in addition to Simmons — when you might only get a couple months of Beal back.
But flat out refusing to include Thybulle in any deal for Beal still seems strange given the talent level of the player you'd be getting back.
Stay tuned, we'll have more from Kyle Neubeck on this shortly...
It's no secret that Sixers president of basketball operations didn't waste much time last year after arrival before trying to ship Ben Simmons out of town for James Harden, ultimately losing out on the superstar to the Brooklyn Nets.
And now, with Harden eligible to become a free agent after the season — and the Sixers still very much in limbo with Simmons, who remains hidden from public view as he works out on his own amid continued trade demands — it's no surprise that the Harden-to-Sixers rumors have started up again. And it appears they've even reached one of the main parties involved, Simmons himself, with the latest coming from ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. In part of a much larger story about the standoff between the two sides, how it got to this point and where it goes from here, there was a nugget that applies to the upcoming trade deadline.
According to Shelburne's sources in Simmons' camp, the (soon-to-be-former) Sixers guard doesn't believe Morey will cave to his demand ahead of the deadline, preferring to wait until the summer in an effort to finally reunite with Harden:
[Simmons is] also skeptical, sources close to him say, of Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey's willingness to trade him because of his previous pursuit of Harden -- who can become a free agent this summer. Simmons would be the best player the Sixers would send in any theoretical trade. [espn.com]
It's not hard to see how Simmons arrived at that conclusion.
First, there was Morey's previous infatuation with Harden, a player he has a rich history with in Houston. Then there's the lack of interest elsewhere around the league, with teams like the Kings reportedly dropping out and others possibly looking elsewhere as Morey remains steadfast in his high asking price. And finally, there are the words from Morey himself, who said recently in a radio interview that a deadline deal is "less likely than likely."
But according to Morey, a deal not getting done won't be from a lack of trying.
"I think it's less likely than likely, but hopefully I'm wrong," Morey said. "Look, it won't be from lack of trying. We have a whole team of front office [personnel], it's all we do. We have no other job that matters, it's all we're working on. And I only say less likely, it won't be because we don't want to do it, it will be because for whatever reason, I mean I can tell you that these other 29 teams, none of them wake up and say, hey, today, how can I help the 76ers get better? They're all worried about their own teams. The main reason I say less likely than likely is it takes two or three to tango. Trades are not easy to construct in this league, there's a lot of risk aversion, there's a lot of decision-makers that have to be hurdled."
Of course, with the possibility of landing Harden on the horizon, it might not matter how unwilling other teams are or how difficult trades are to conduct. As Morey added later in the interview, "If all the trades at the February deadline only help us in a very marginal way, what we've done is not really help our chances this year, we just feel better about ourselves because there's a couple of names people maybe recognize."
That sounds like a guy who wants to land a big fish, and with a big bargaining chip in Simmons, he's more likely just waiting for the right time to pounce. That being said, it doesn't make Simmons wrong in his assessment that Morey isn't willing to trade him (right now). He's just not 100% correct either. Morey is willing to trade him. For the right price.
Will the right offer emerge between now and next week's trade deadline? Or will Simmons still be a Sixer when the dust settles on Feb. 10? We've got you covered with live updates and analysis each day leading up to the deadline, and we'll top this post off with any news relevant to the Sixers...
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