It’s becoming increasingly evident that the 76ers are going to have to trade Ben Simmons because the parties are not going to reconcile. Simmons maintains he wants to start with a new team. The 76ers have been hoping that Simmons would have a change of heart.
General manager Daryl Morey met with Simmons’s agent, Rich Paul, this past week and the sides maintained their stances. The 76ers are not going to move Simmons, a three-time All-Star, unless they get an All-Star in return; Simmons isn’t going to play until he’s traded.
So, what’s going to happen? Chances are the 76ers will wait until the trade deadline to move him unless Morey is offered a sweetheart deal. What deals are out there? There aren’t many because teams have no idea which Simmons they are going to get.
When he is mentally locked in, Simmons is a game-changer, a 6-foot-11-inch point guard who can run the floor, defend, and score at the rim. Simmons, 25, has never learned how to capably shoot, but he was able to develop a respectable short jumper that made him a weapon.
Then there’s the Simmons that played against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He was afraid to attack the basket because he did not want to shoot free throws because of his low percentage. And he eventually became afraid to shoot at all in the fourth quarter. A key moment of Game 7 was when he passed up a sure dunk to pass to teammate Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled at the rim and split two free throws.
What makes any Simmons trade more complex is he’s in the second year of a five-year extension that pays him $40 million in 2024-25. Any team that decides to trade for Simmons is making a major financial commitment. The question is whether Simmons will ever return to previous form and how much he wants to play basketball.
There are some trade scenarios that make sense, but it’s going to take Morey dropping his high demands and other teams taking a calculated risk.
Here are some potential Simmons trades:
1. Portland sends Damian Lillard and a first-round pick to Philadelphia for Simmons, Thybulle, and Jaden Springer — In this situation, the Trail Blazers would move on from the increasingly unhappy Lillard, who has had a troubled, injury-plagued season, and send him to a situation where he can win. The Blazers would sweeten the deal with a first-round pick. The Blazers would get a younger player in return in Simmons, along with a solid defender in Thybulle and a prospect in Springer. The Blazers seem like the perfect trade partner, but they are reluctant to include the popular Lillard in any deal. And the club does not have a permanent GM after firing Neil Olshey.
2. Atlanta sends John Collins, DeAndre Hunter, and Jalen Johnson to Philadelphia for Simmons — Collins has been increasingly unhappy with his changing role with the Hawks. He signed a five-year, $125 million extension and was expecting to be a cornerstone, but Collins is more of a pick-and-roll dunker and rebounder. While he is an improving player, he is a complement to All-Star Trae Young. The Hawks also have had a difficult season, prompting the organization to make changes. Hunter is an impactful defender and swingman when healthy. Johnson would be added to give the 76ers another prospect.
3. Minnesota sends D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels, and Jaylen Nowell to Philadelphia for Simmons — Russell is a solid scorer but will never be a frontline guard. Because of that, the Timberwolves would add two rising players in McDaniels and Nowell. Simmons would take his pass-first mentality to Minnesota, where he’d be the perfect partner for Karl-Anthony Towns. What’s missing in this deal is the All-Star-caliber player, but McDaniels and Nowell are improving and would add depth to the 76ers.
4. Sacramento sends De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell to Philadelphia for Simmons and Springer — The Kings are pretty much the same team they have been for years, talented but grossly underachieving. They have stacked lottery picks over the years, but those picks have done nothing to lift the franchise to the playoffs. So, it may be time for major changes. Fox is playing at an All-Star level, but it isn’t leading to winning, and the Kings also have Tyrese Haliburton, who could slide into some point guard duties while Simmons could play multiple positions. Mitchell would come along to give the 76ers another tough-minded guard who can defend.
5. Cleveland sends Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Lauri Markkanen, and two first-round picks to Philadelphia for Simmons and Springer — The Cavaliers could go all-in for a bona fide point guard and send Sexton, who appears to be a poor fit with the Cavaliers, Okoro, and Markkanen to add depth to the 76ers. Okoro is a strong defender and Markkanen has the potential to be a solid stretch-4. With the Cavaliers rising with Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, they can afford to send some of their young talent to Philadelphia for a chance to compete in the East.