The Philadelphia 76ers have opened up trade discussions involving Ben Simmons, according to Shams Charania. They ideally want an All-Star caliber player in return. Members of the Sixers organization publicly committed to helping Simmons develop his shooting this offseason with the hope of keeping him long-term. It appears the Sixers will keep all their options open in pursuit of a new All-Star caliber player.
Simmons’ trade value is complicated. It certainly took a hit after the playoffs, and his lack of shooting and aggressiveness may have scared off interested teams. At the same time, he is still an All-Star and one of the league’s best defenders. There should still be many teams interested in him, but Philadelphia won’t just trade him just to trade him. They should still get strong offers for him.
What really complicates a Simmons trade for the Sixers is the type of return they’re seeking. They have a star in Joel Embiid and a great supporting cast of shooters around him, so any trade they make has to put them in a better position to win the championship. They may want a star back to pair with Embiid, but it’s possible the market for Simmons is a combination of good young players and several draft picks. Getting the ideal type of return they want could be harder than it looks.
Trade for the next available superstar
It seems like almost every offseason, a star player demands a trade and gets it. In 2017 it was Chris Paul. In 2018 it was Kawhi Leonard. In 2019 it was Anthony Davis. In 2020 it was James Harden. The next one could be on the horizon, and the Sixers will be in a position to make an offer featuring Simmons.
One such player who could become available is Damian Lillard. Philadelphia would have to attach more to Simmons and could offer up to three additional future first-round picks and young players such as Matisse Thybulle and Tyrese Maxey.
There will be a lot of competition to acquire Lillard, but the Sixers should have somewhat of an edge, assuming Lillard prefers to play for an immediate contender. He should have some agency in his destination, especially after Harden got to his preferred destination with three years left on his contract. It’s hard to see Philadelphia passing on an opportunity to acquire Lillard.
Trade for an All-Star
If Philadelphia can’t acquire a superstar, there are several ball-dominant All-Stars who they could try to acquire. There might not be any available, but they could try to target ones whose contracts are almost up. If a team can’t sign their All-Star to commit on an extension, it could be an opportunity for the Sixers to make an offer since they will not have cap space to sign these players in free agency.
Bradley Beal is under contract with Washington for the 2021-22 season and has a player option for the 2022-23 season. Beal could extend with the Wizards this offseason for $181 million over four years. He can also decline his player option in 2022 and re-sign with them for a projected $235 million over five years. His situation is something Philadelphia should monitor.
Zach LaVine is on the last year of his deal with Chicago and can become an unrestricted free agent in 2022. He is eligible for a four-year extension worth $104.8 million, but he is expected to decline it since it’s way below his market value. He could renegotiate his $19.5 million 2021-22 salary into a $33.7 million maximum salary and extend for an additional $161.9 million through 2025-26. That would require the Bulls to utilize $14.2 million in cap space to give him a raise this offseason, but they may want to use that flexibility to improve the team. His situation could get fluid as well as he gets closer to unrestricted free agency.
Brandon Ingram could be a good fit in Philadelphia, but Simmons may need to be rerouted to a third team. Even if New Orleans wanted Simmons to start at point guard, he and Zion together would cost them a lot of shooting. Ingram is under contract for four more seasons, so they don’t have to worry about his next contract. He also earns less than Simmons, so that could save them a lot on their luxury tax bill in the short term.
Although not an All-Star yet, CJ McCollum is another player who fits the criteria. Simmons has the talent and age advantage, so Philadelphia can probably extract a little more from Portland along with McCollum.
Trade for a bunch of assets
Even if there isn’t an All-Star they can get right now for Simmons, there will be plenty of teams that haven’t been in the playoffs recently making strong offers for him in hopes of making a big leap. Such offers will probably contain good veterans, players with potential on their rookie contracts, and future first-round picks. If Philadelphia is interested in extracting as much value as possible for Simmons, they can still do that.
Minnesota comes off as a team that might have the best fit for Simmons in the entire league. They need to improve their defense badly. Even if he never improves his shooting, his defense alone still improves them. Making a splash like this and getting into the playoffs could convince Karl-Anthony Towns to stay long-term.
They could act as a third team in any Simmons trade where they receive him and ideally not trade any of their starters. A package of Ricky Rubio and Jarrett Culver or Juancho Hernangomez as salary fillers, as well as Jaden McDaniels, Leandro Bolmaro’s draft rights, and multiple first-round picks (can offer up to four) is an example of assets Minnesota can offer Philadelphia or a third team sending an All-Star to the 76ers.
Sacramento is another team that would improve significantly with Simmons. Aside from De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, there really isn’t any untouchable player on the Kings right now. A package from them could include multiple first-round picks (including No. 9 in this year’s draft), Buddy Hield, and Marvin Bagley.
Charlotte is a team on the rise that could be an excellent fit for Simmons. Like Minnesota and Sacramento, they need help on defense badly and have enough offense to work around him. Assets the Hornets have to offer include the 11th overall pick, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington, and multiple future picks. They could also potentially get Devonte Graham or Malik Monk involved as part of a sign-and-trade.
San Antonio has a roster without an All-Star going forward, and Simmons would become that player. They have close to $50 million in cap space this offseason, so they won’t need to match salaries for him. A combination of their young players and future first-round picks could be enticing.
Oklahoma City can easily offer the most stuff for Simmons. They can absorb him with their cap space as well and have several young prospects. They may not be ready to make a leap just yet, and it’s possible the Thunder only consider trading him if they feel that they can buy low and sell high on him later.
If the Sixers can’t get an All-Star type of player back for him, they might need to consider not trading him at all this offseason. This is the type of return where the line between trading Simmons or not gets drawn. They could be better off holding onto him and helping him improve his shooting. If he can become a passable shooter, maybe they keep him, or they at least rehabilitate his value to get an All-Star later during the season.