The NBA trade market was supposed to be light on superstars this offseason. Then the rumblings about Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal began. There is still no concrete info out there suggesting either guy has given his current team an official request for a new home or an ultimatum of any type, but even the slightest hint of a player like those two wanting out makes for endless discussion and convoluted ESPN trade machine equations galore.
The buzz around that pair made Ben Simmons a forgotten man for a bit. Simmons is not on the level of Beal or Lillard, not by any means, but he's the best player who is definitely available by a long shot. We don't really know if Beal or Lillard will be traded, much less if their respective front offices are actively engaged in discussions. We know for sure the Sixers are trying to trade Simmons.
A lot of digital ink has been spilled about the Simmons conundrum. Enough that you, reader, already get the gist; the young point guard has an outstanding resume for a 25-year-old but has fatal flaws in his game that render him borderline useless during the playoffs. No winning team will attempt to acquire him as the final piece, but plenty of average and bad teams would be very interested in landing Simmons while he's at his lowest value.
That latter scenario seems very unlikely to happen given what we learned on Wednesday. Adrian Wojnarowski went on The Jump to share with the world that Philly and Daryl Morey are looking for a James Harden-level package in exchange for Simmons.
This is further backed up by a report from Kevin O'Connor of The Ringer, who said that the Sixers asked the Spurs for four first-round picks, three pick swaps, and a good young player in exchange for Simmons in a podcast appearance yesterday.
It's a legitimately comical price tag. To remind everyone, the Nets had to give up eight first-round picks and their two best young players to land Harden, an MVP and multi-time scoring leader. Simmons is a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defense team member. That's nothing to sneeze at, but it also pales in comparison to Harden's accolades, which means quite literally nobody is going to give up a Harden haul for Simmons.
You have to wonder what Daryl Morey's endgame with this is. Trading Simmons this summer for a reasonable price was always going to be a tall task because his value has never been lower. But asking for that amount of picks and talent in return gives the impression Morey isn't even trying to trade Simmons, he just wants to see if he can trick someone into giving up way more than what the point guard is actually worth.
There are worse strategies, I suppose. The worst-case scenario here is the Sixers roll into next season with the same core group of players that earned the top seed in the East last season. Last year proved that core isn't championship-quality unless Simmons undergoes a complete mental and physical overhaul of his offensive game, but winning 50-60 games isn't a bad consolation prize. The best-case is that someone actually trades that much for Simmons and the Sixers set themselves up for success in both the near and far future, even if their immediate ceiling is lowered a bit.
Still. If the Sixers really want to move Simmons in an effort to win a title next year, this is not the starting point. They'll get laughed off the phone by every team in the NBA. For all we know, they already have. Because nobody is going to give a godfather offer for Simmons right now.