The former No. 1 overall pick needs a fresh start after losing any remaining confidence he had in his shot. Simmons spent the second round refusing to shoot from outside the paint, and to the annoyance of Philly fans and perhaps Joel Embiid, to shoot at all in the fourth quarter.
On one hand, he averaged 9.9 points per game in the conference semifinals and clogged up the floor on offense. On the other hand, the 6-foot-10 24-year-old has elite passing vision and is one of the best defensive players in the league. That makes Simmons an excellent buy-low candidate this offseason.
If Simmons and the Sixers are headed for a divorce, here are five trades the Sixers should pursue.
Trade 1: Ben Simmons to the Los Angeles Lakers
Is this our craziest trade? Perhaps. Does it appear as if the 76ers are selling low on Simmons? Perhaps. But we have entered the fake-trade season, so let’s have a little bit of fun here, as well as speculate on why this deal is not as crazy as one might think.
First off, let’s start with Philly’s disenchantment with who Simmons has become. Just last night, their own head coach Doc Rivers refused to say Simmons could be the lead point guard for a championship team.
Doc Rivers answers a question whether Ben Simmons can be the point guard of a championship team pic.twitter.com/8xL35u98RC— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) June 21, 2021
That statement, plus the fact that Simmons just had a brutal Hawks series, doesn’t exactly help his trade value.
Pivoting to the Lakers, it looks like Kyle Kuzma will be sent packing in one way or another this offseason. Just like Simmons, Kuzma is coming off a disappointing postseason, and he still does a little bit of everything as a role player and is still a young forward on an affordable deal who is willing to improve.
Caldwell-Pope is the perfect, younger version of a Danny Green replacement if the 76ers fail to re-sign the 33-year-old free agent this offseason. Then, there’s Horton-Tucker, who is one of the biggest mystery boxes in the entire league.
Drafted in the second round of the 2019 draft, Horton-Tucker has flashed the potential of the next wave of high-usage combo guards who can wiggle into the lane to get buckets and facilitate for others. He sports a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and is already a plus-defender who projects to be really good on that end of the floor.
If Sixers general manager Daryl Morey truly believes in Horton-Tucker, he could agree to this move. Also, the Lakers would be giving up this year’s first-round pick in a deep draft, and their 2027 first-rounder could be very juicy considering LeBron James could be long retired by then. For the Lakers, Simmons is not an obvious fit next to LeBron James, but if anyone can reinvigorate Simmons' career, it’s his fellow Klutch client, which brings us to another dynamic.
Klutch is a very savvy agency that can help move their players to more desirable destinations. Simmons spends most of his offseason time in Los Angeles, and most players in the league would love to play for the Lakers. Fit him in next to James and Anthony Davis on the frontline, and that defense would be the best in the league.
Trade 2: Ben Simmons to the Portland Trail Blazers
The Trade: Ben Simmons for C.J. McCollum
Take a drink for every time we mention McCollum in a potential trade article. We’re sorry C.J., it’s just that you’re a very good player who currently plays for a Blazers team that has reached its expiration date with the current roster. You still have a great podcast.
It was evident that Philadelphia desperately craved another on-ball creator who can drop 25 points with ease while also keeping others involved. McCollum is exactly that player, and a two-man game with Embiid would be a problem for defenses.
If you’re Daryl Morey, it stings that you weren’t able to get a deal done for James Harden at the trade deadline, but McCollum possesses the exact skillset the 76ers covet. In Portland, the Blazers have been craving a playmaking power forward during Damian Lillard’s entire tenure.
Simmons would transform the Blazers’ defense into a respectable unit, and he would make an excellent pick-and-roll dance partner for Lillard. So many Blazers playoff runs have ended early because Lillard gets trapped, and passes to the open wing or big in the middle of the court who is unable to consistently produce quality looks. Simmons changes that equation and potentially catapults the Blazers to the West’s top tier.
Trade 3: Ben Simmons to the Chicago Bulls
The Trade: Ben Simmons, 76ers 2021 First-Round Pick for Zach LaVine, Tomas Satoransky
The only way the Bulls realistically do this deal is if LaVine makes the call that he wants a change of scenery. LaVine is currently on a $19 million expiring contract and missed the All-NBA team this year, making him ineligible for a supermax extension. The Bulls have been largely disappointing during LaVine’s tenure, and it’s very reasonable to believe the 26-year-old wants to move to a winning situation.
The first seven seasons of LaVine’s career have been on the tanking Timberwolves and Bulls. He’s never been on a team with a winning record, and while a small portion of that is due to his poor defense, it’s largely an indictment of his terrible supporting casts.
LaVine is coming off a season in which he averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds and five assists on 50/42/85 shooting splits. He’s the ideal modern guard, and someone the 76ers would be lucky to have. Throw in Satoransky, a very dependable third or fourth guard who can play off the ball, and this would be a great deal for Philly.
If LaVine asks to be traded, the Bulls would be hardpressed to find a better offer than Simmons and a first-round pick.
Trade 4: Ben Simmons to the Washington Wizards
The Trade: Ben Simmons, 2021 & 2023 76ers First-Round Picks for Bradley Beal
This hypothetical trade joins the LaVine deal in the “It’s Only Happening Because Player X Requested a Trade” category. Beal gave the Wizards the benefit of the doubt and has been with Washington since they drafted him in 2012. That’s almost a decade with one team, and despite a few exciting playoff runs, the Wiz have not had a great deal of success.
Beal is one of the best shooting guards in the league. He’s a silky-smooth shooter who can score from all areas of the floor. He’s comfortable as an on-ball initiator but is also a lethal off-ball shooter that can slink off flare screens or pindowns. Philly would be doing backflips if they can get this deal done, and would happily include two future first-round picks.
The Wizards probably know the Beal trade request is coming eventually. By all accounts, Beal has a good relationship with the front office and will probably allow them to receive something in return instead of just bolting in free agency.
Would Russell Westbrook and Simmons work together? Probably not, but Washington shouldn’t be too concerned about fit. Westbrook is still an incredibly good player (he just averaged another triple-double this season!) but he’s 32 with lots of lower leg injuries in his past. His presence alone isn’t enough to refuse a talent like Simmons, who could help usher Washington into a new era.
Trade 5: Ben Simmons to the Golden State Warriors
A three-team trade! Buckle your seatbelts, because this trade is so crazy that it might actually happen. Here's a team-by-team breakdown of the multi-team deal.
Kardiac Kemba to the Sixers
Giving up Simmons is tough, but it’s inevitably going to happen this offseason. If Simmons is going to thrive, he needs to be surrounded by floor-spacers and should probably be a facilitating big man instead of being responsible for lead ball-handling responsibilities.
Philly needs a point guard, and Kemba Walker is just that guy. With a full offseason of rest, hopefully Walker can return to his old form as a pick-and-roll assassin with a filthy crossover. Walker is clutch, willing to take the big shot and can create for his teammates. When he’s operating at peak capacity, he’s just what Philly needs.
If the 76ers can talk themselves into his knee healing, they could pull the trigger, especially since they also receive a golden ticket draft pick courtesy of the Timberwolves, which could easily be the fourth, fifth or sixth pick in a stacked draft. It also converts into an unprotected first-rounder if it’s not conveyed this season.
That pick not only represents the shot at a game-changing talent on a rookie deal, but it could also act as a trade piece if Morey looks to add another guy who will help the 76ers win right now, which should probably be the mandate since Embiid is in the prime of his career.
Stockpiling OKC Strikes Again
This is a no-brainer for the Thunder. Wiggins does have two more years at $65 million in total salary remaining, but he’s coming off a productive season in which he missed only one game to injury. Wiggins is still just 26, and his contract isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. He’s younger and healthier than Walker, who the Thunder just acquired in yet another plot to acquire more first-round picks than the rest of the league combined.
By trading Walker, OKC gets to move on from someone who was never in their short- or long-term plans. They also net a 2023 first-round pick courtesy of the Warriors, which adds to their seemingly endless pile of assets. OKC is a long way off from competing, so they’ll happily help facilitate this deal.
Warriors Make a Splash
If the Warriors got this deal done, they would be ecstatic. Simmons to the Warriors has been an NBA Twitter fever dream for the past few years, and it’s closer than ever to actually happening. After the playoffs, Simmons’ value took a hit that should now vault Golden State into the sweepstakes.
It’s been discussed a lot that the best version of Simmons is a Draymond Green-type who wreaks havoc on defense. Well, who better to learn from than Green himself? (Also, they’re fellow Klutch clients).
With Stephen Curry and a hopefully healthy Klay Thompson applying immense pressure on defenses, it’s a common tactic to double team them at the top of the key. Watch this play from the end of the season where the Suns QUADRUPLE-teamed Curry:
Add Simmons to that dynamic, and things become scary. With Green and Steve Kerr in his ear, Simmons has a great shot to succeed. He’ll also be dealing with acres of space next to the Splash Brothers and Jordan Poole, who took a big step forward in his development at the tail end of the season.
By keeping James Wiseman, a potential logjam awaits unless he can develop a three-point jumper. But if the Warriors can get Simmons without giving up Wiseman, then they’ve already won. After an up (but mostly down) rookie year, Wiseman still sports a good amount of value on the trade market. The Dubs could deal him and receive another wing player who is a better fit with the current squad. Or Wiseman could just play most of his minutes without both Simmons and Green on the floor.
It’s not like the Dubs are giving up nothing. Wiggins is a very durable wing player who is coming off perhaps the best and most consistent season in his career. The Wolves pick represents a potential future star and could turn into Bradley Beal or Zach LaVine if either of them request a trade.
But if Simmons is available, and the Warriors get to keep Wiseman, this is a very strong value for them. Simmons’ value is at its low point, but playing next to Curry and Green could unlock him into the beast we all know he can be.
This deal, just like a lot of potential trades, isn’t perfect. But then again, neither is Ben Simmons.
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