June 22, 2021
It didn't take long for the trade Ben Simmons chorus to sing in Philadelphia, and perhaps it makes sense.
The Sixers spent four seasons trying to build a contender around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and none of their four playoff runs —featuring completely different looks and lineups — were able to utilize Simmons as an asset in the postseason.
It might be time for them to move on from the 24-year-old, hoping to replace his defense with Matisse Thybulle's and perhaps bring in the offense they'll need to get past the second round for once.
But what team in its right mind would be willing to trade for Simmons right now, with his value at an all-time low following a dismal performance against the Hawks? According to some major betting outlets, there are teams on the both coasts who may see a fit for Simmons. For a moment, let's assume that's true. The question, then, is what players should Daryl Morey be willing to accept in return to build back better in 2021-22?
Here is a rundown of the nine teams sportsbetting.ag listed in their Ben Simmons trade odds, and who could be a Sixer next season from each:
Damian Lillard is the No. 1 guy who comes to mind here and a one-for-one swap works exactly, as their salaries match. If the Sixers throw in some first-round picks, maybe they can pull this one off? Lillard has been rumored to have a desire to get out of Portland after their failure to build a contender around him. Imagine Dame and JoJo running pick-and-rolls next season?
It's probably doubtful however, as Lillard is the franchise guy and they may be able to please Lillard by trading C.J. McCollum instead to pair Simmons with Lillard in Portland. McCollum's salary also matches with Simmons' and Kevin O'Conner at The Ringer already has speculated about this swap:
McCollum for Simmons as the main piece in a Blazers-Sixers deal is what executives around the league, just like fans, think is a reasonable trade that makes sense for both sides. Simmons could be like a supercharged Draymond Green to Damian Lillard’s Steph Curry. For years, the Warriors have shredded teams because Curry would often draw a trap and pass the ball to Draymond, who could get to the rim or make a clutch pass to a teammate. Simmons would thrive in a role like that since Lillard feels the same type of pressure in the pick-and-roll.
McCollum, in turn, would help the Sixers. Any player who can create their own shot at a high level would. But it’s not a no-brainer deal. McCollum is 29, and he has underperformed in past postseasons. A backcourt of McCollum and Seth Curry would also make for a weak defensive duo. Blazers fans have just about had it with McCollum, just as Sixers fans have with Simmons. But they could each drag their problems to a new team too. [The Ringer]
If you can't beat them, join them? The Wizards are listed with the second best odds of trading for Simmons and Washington surely proved it was a defensively challenged team in their first-round loss to Philly. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal are really the two most appealing options. For Westbrook, the Sixers would need to throw in a Seth Curry or a handful of bench guys to get the money to work. And if it did, would the Sixers even want the triple-double machine, who will turn 33 in November?
Here's an interesting take on that potential trade from the Washington perspective, via Kevin Broom at SB Nation:
Ultimately, if it was a true one-for-one swap, I’d...still not be sure. At this moment, I lean towards making the trade and then hiring the best sports psychologist I could find to work with Simmons. It’d be a $140+ million gamble over the next four seasons, and backfire and make the team worse. When I think about it again later, I might change my mind.
I mean, he consumes too much of the cap to spend the playoffs standing in the dunker spot. But he also has so many skills that it’s easy to imagine him overcoming his mental block and becoming a great player.
It’s almost certainly little more than something for fans to chew on, however. The Wizards value Westbrook’s leadership and work ethic and believe he’s changing the team’s culture and helping build winning habits. It seems farfetched they’d trade someone as uber-confident as Westbrook for someone as timid as Simmons has been in his team’s biggest moments. [SB Nation]
The other Washington option is more appealing for Philly but may be hard to pull off after Beal nearly led the NBA in scoring this past year. Still, the salaries match up perfectly and perhaps throwing in a few draft picks could get the deal over the hump.
I guess in theory, the Spurs and Greg Popovich would love Simmons' defense. Salary-cap wise, DeMar DeRozan is the only guy who'd work in a straight up swap. He's 31 and still has a lot left in the tank and might actually work in Philly. DeRozan is a four-time All-Star and two-time All-NBA player and while Sixers fans may feel short-changed, with Simmons' low stock it might be a sleeper-good deal for them.
The Jazz don't have a simple offer to consider, but they would most definitely be interested in pairing Rudy Gobert with Simmons to form a defensive juggernaut. The first player in a one-for-one swap who comes to mind is Mike Conley, but the 32-year-old point guard is on an expiring contract. His departure will open up some cap space for Utah, making a trade for a lesser contract possible, perhaps for Bojan Bogdanović or for Jordan Clarkson — but they might be better passing on this one.
However, Oklahoma City is rebuilding, has some cap space, and it might be possible for them to snag a young player on a rookie deal, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Thunder might be willing to do either deal if a first-round pick is involved, as they continue to try and pursue a Process of their own.
The Warriors will not be parting with Klay Thompson or Step Curry this offseason, as they should be a contender again in 2022 with the splash brothers back together and healthy. The options from Golden State aren't super appealing, as The Athletic's Marcus Thompson II lays out:
But the Sixers still could put together a package good enough for C.J. McCollum. Or Zach LaVine. Or Terry Rozier. Or John Wall. Any of them, or a number of other options, could be better than what the Warriors would feasibly offer: Wiggins. The Sixers wouldn’t have use for James Wiseman with Embiid already manning the middle. And it’s highly unlikely the Warriors give up their Minnesota pick if they get it. Not for Simmons. So that leaves Wiggins and their own late lottery pick at most.
Even with Simmons being at a career-low value, the 76ers should be able to get more. [The Athletic]
It is no secret that LeBron James and Simmons are pretty close. They work out all offseason in L.A. and have the same agency. But a trade with the Lakers isn't particularly appealing from the Sixers side.
Financially, there are few pathways to matching the $33 million Simmons is owed for 2021-22—the second of a four-year, $177 million deal. Los Angeles could package their offensive scapegoat, 25-year-old Kyle Kuzma ($13 million in 2021-22), along with Caldwell-Pope ($12 million) and Montrezl Harrell (should he pick up his $9.7 million player option and agree to the trade), plus the no. 22 overall pick in the upcoming draft (roughly $2.4 million).
They could explore trickier but doable sign-and-trade scenarios involving Dennis Schroder (likely to earn around $20-$25 million this summer) or Horton-Tucker, their 20-year restricted free agent that could receive a “poison-pill” contract under the Gilbert Arenas provision that pays him $9 million in 2021-22, then hefty sums in later years. Because both players are free agents, they would need to approve a sign-and-trade.
The Lakers can offer their 2027 first-round pick, second-round picks, and first-round trade swaps down the road to sweeten the deal. Marc Gasol is on the books for $2.7 million, should they need him to match salaries. [Clutch Points]
Any of that sound good to you?
Like the Lakers, the Cavs don't have a great superstar to offer Philly, so this would really be a last resort if they are trying to get rid of Simmons. Here's one potential offer that would work salary-wise, from SB Nation:
The most I’d offer to probably Love, Sexton and a pick or two. Simmons’ value has never been lower, so overpaying would be a mistake. Simmons is a star talent, and worth a bet. But he’s not bulletproof. There’s some risk on the Cavs’ part if they were able to do this. But it’s worth at least exploring, even if I don’t think a Simmons-to-Cavs deal is all that realistic. What the Cavs can offer just isn’t quite what the 76ers need to get back for Simmons to maximize Joel Embiid’s prime. [SB Nation]
And finally we have another Processing team in Houston. The only real player who makes sense here is John Wall who is on a max deal himself — though if the Sixers could find a way to get Eric Gordon it might help their shooting even more. Here's a snippet from FanSided's Rockets blog:
Houston could package some players along with picks to sweeten the deal for the Sixers. It’d be smart to include John Wall in a deal with the Sixers point forward, as Philly could benefit from his services. Wall still provides exceptional playmaking ability like Simmons, except that he shoots it considerably better.
The Rockets will likely have to involve the 30-year-old guard in this transaction for financial and logistical reasons also. Wall doesn’t fit Houston’s timeline as an organization, and offloading his contract would be a big weight off their shoulders. They’d inherit Simmon’s massive deal in return, but they still have time to mold him into the player they want. At 24-years-old, Simmons’ NBA career is only getting started. [Fansided]
The options we've explored here are by no means the only ones. There are plenty of other teams out there who may be interested in Simmons this offseason. However, the sportsbooks always seem to know something we don't, and if they are onto something, the above players may have the best chances of being Sixers when the 2021-22 season tips off.
Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports