We now have solid confirmation that Ben Simmons may be on the move this offseason. After much discussion about Simmons' fit with Joel Embiid and his ability to play winning basketball following his well-publicized struggles in the Philadelphia 76ers' playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Shams Charania reports that Daryl Morey and Co. have engaged in trade discussions involving Siimmons. Per The Athletic:
The 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams, sources told The Athletic. Those sources also say that teams that have engaged with the 76ers about Simmons have been met with a high price threshold for the three-time All-Star.
“(The 76ers) want an All-Star-caliber player in return,” one source with knowledge of the ongoing talks said.
Everybody assumed the Sixers would at least explore trading their All-Defense big man after he played a large role in their early playoff exit. This is the first hard intel we've received that suggests it's a legitimate possibility. The appeal for other teams is obvious; Simmons is an elite defender and passer, capable of guarding literally every position and destroying teams on the fast break. The shooting and scoring woes are real, but he'll only be 25 years-old when next season begins.
The biggest obstacle for any trade is Simmons' contract. He's set to make $33 million next season and his salary escalates with each passing year until it expires in 2025. That also gives some appeal to potential trade partners, though. Whoever trades for Simmons knows he'll be with the team for at least the next three years. Knowing all that, here are four possible trade destinations for the All-Star point guard.
Portland Trail Blazers
We outlined why Portland is a possible trade partner when discussing what a trade for CJ McCollum would look like, and that idea still holds up a month later. McCollum is a good player who can create for himself, something lacking on this Philly roster outside of Embiid. The two can be traded straight-up for one another with their equally-sized contracts. The Sixers get a legit scoring threat who spaces the floor for their superstar big man, while Portland gets an All-Star player in their own right who changes the look of the roster without completely blowing it up. The Trail Blazers would still have some spacing issues to figure out, but if Damian Lillard signs off on this, Simmons is the best player they can acquire for McCollum and gives them the best chance to make a dramatic change that both keeps Dame happy and their playoff hopes alive. And if Lillard actually wants out, that opens up another world of possibilities.
New York Knicks
The Knicks will find themselves in virtually all of these sorts of discussions because they have oodles of cap space to work with this summer. That means they don't need to match Simmons' $33 million salary in any trade, which makes the logistical side of executing this transaction significantly easier. Simmons is also exactly the type of player the Knicks should want-- young enough that he fits the slow-build timeline of this new front office, but good enough that he'd immediately make the team better and a more attractive free agent destination.
The issue is that they don't really have a lot of talent to offer the Sixers. If Philly's demand starts and stops at an All-Star, New York has Julius Randle, but he doesn't strike me as a great fit next to Embiid. Randle's newfound jumper is what drove him to his first All-Star selection this year, but we need to see another season of 41 percent shooting from beyond the arc to consider it real. If Philly buys it, though, Randle gives them that extra scoring boost they need on the perimeter without sacrificing too much defensively. The Knicks immediately ditch their first All-Star since Carmelo Anthony, but get a legitimate foundational piece in Simmons. If both sides want this, they can make it happen quickly.
Golden State Warriors
This is a long shot for both teams but it's the sort of galaxy-brain move that Daryl Morey is known for and what Warriors owner Joe Lacob likes to think his team would make. The trade would be simple: Draymond Green and James Wiseman for Simmons.
Why would the Warriors do this? They aren't going to give up Klay Thompson and the Sixers won't take some combination of Andrew Wiggins, Wiseman, and draft picks. Green is the only player good enough for Philly to want. Simmons, in a Warriors world, is an even better version of Draymond, capable of picking teams apart on the short roll as a small-ball five while being more effective guarding quick perimeter players. Green in Philly would present the exact same issues Simmons did in terms of their spacing on offense, but Doc Rivers can rest easier knowing Green understands exactly what it takes to win championships. He may not be able to shoot any better than Simmons, but he will take that open layup in crunch time, and that may very well be all the Sixers need to hit the next level.
Is this likely? Certainly not. Golden State is happy to run it back with their original Big 3 and the trade would probably be very unpopular in the locker room. But adding Simmons' youth to the aging core changes the landscape of the franchise for the near and far future. If Philadelphia asks, the Warriors need to at least consider it.
This is my favorite fit for Simmons. The trade: Simmons goes to Minnesota in exchange for D'Angelo Russell. The Wolves would only need to throw in a little filler to make it happen, and there's motivation for both sides to get the deal done.
Karl-Anthony Towns might be the only big man in the league that Simmons fits perfectly next to. KAT is a downright lethal three-point shooter and defenses cannot afford to leave him alone beyond the arc. That opens up the entire floor for Simmons to work with and gives Minnesota a potentially elite defensive pairing if Towns ever decides to leverage his athletic ability to make an impact on that end. The Towns/Russell partnership was good when both were on the court last year but absolutely heinous defensively and there are legitimate concerns about their fit on that end. Russell, much like McCollum, would immediately solve Philadelphia's perimeter creation issues and create one of the best offensive duos in the league with Embiid, while the big man can cover for Russell's shortcomings on the other end of the court.
It's a big risk for Minnesota because Towns, from what we can tell, likes Russell and the clock is always ticking with a player of his caliber. If they send out his pal for Simmons and it doesn't work, it could be the final nail in the coffin in their relationship. But if it works, the front office proves to Town that not only are they committed to winning, they know what they're doing, and winning cures all woes. It's a leap of faith, but one worth taking.