10 Teams Who Could Trade For Ben Simmons
Let’s see if we can come up with a deal.
Adam Aaronson, whose legal name is Sixers Adam (@SixersAdam on Twitter), covers the Sixers for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez. He has been legally banned from covering the team in person, and when that ban was set to be lifted, Covid-19 struck. He believes cantaloupe is the best food in existence, and is brought to you by the Official Realtor of The Process, Adam Ksebe.
We are officially in turbulent waters, folks. After several weeks of speculation and confusion regarding Ben Simmons’ status with the Sixers, Simmons and his camp have made their first move: according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Simmons informed Sixers brass that he no longer desires to be a Sixer. Additionally, Simmons told the team that he does not intend to come to training camp if the Sixers fail to move him.
Obviously, this is a gargantuan step forward towards a trade finally coming together. This is the most pressure new Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey has seen since entering in Philadelphia.
A trade of a player as accomplished and young as Simmons is very rare. Hence, we have very little idea what a reasonable trade package for him (or one built around him) would look like.
Let’s dig in and evaluate the main contenders for Simmons’ services.
Pipe dreams: Portland Trail Blazers, Washington Wizards
Let’s start with the obvious: if the Sixers can do anything to affirm themselves as a legitimate contender to acquire Portland point guard Damian Lillard, they should do so without hesitation. Lillard, one of the best scorers and shooters of this generation, would fit in seamlessly to create a powerful 1A/1B combination with Joel Embiid.
While he is not quite on Lillard’s level, you can say many of the same things about Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal. Unfortunately for the Sixers, it appears that Beal is content to stay in Washington for the time being. But if he revisits a possible trade request before the Simmons situation is resolved, Morey should get involved as early as possible.
The most popular contenders: Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers
Minnesota has easily been the most commonly-mentioned Simmons suitor, with the Wolves hoping to build a more formidable core around Karl-Anthony Towns. Simmons and Towns are a near-perfect fit offensively, which likely makes SImmons especially attractive to the Wolves. The question is, though, what do they have to make this worth the Sixers’ while? D’Angelo Russell very well could be the centerpiece of a hypothetical package. Russell is a fine player, but to me is not even close to good enough to be important to a title team in the kind of role he’s held in Brooklyn and Minnesota. Anthony Edwards, last year’s #1 overall pick, is probably untouchable. That leaves Malik Beasley, a fascinating guard, and Jaden McDaniels, a promising incoming sophomore, as the main pieces of a deal. As much as I like Beasley and McDaniels, the lack of value elsewhere leads me to believe Minnesota is not the right team for the Sixers.
Another commonly-mentioned team surrounding Simmons is the Raptors, who are building a roster full of long, big, multi-positional wings. Simmons fits that ethos. Pascal Siakam is Toronto’s best player, and he’s recently been mentioned as a dark horse trade candidate. Fred VanVleet would make tons of sense on the Sixers, even if his fit would be better alongside Simmons than it would be in place of Simmons. Scottie Barnes, the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, is likely off limits. So, to, should be OG Anunoby, an elite defensive player with a rapidly-improving offensive repertoire. Chris Boucher, a stretch big-man, could make sense as a piece of the puzzle here as well.
The San Antonio Spurs have been the most obvious trade partner to me since these discussions began. They have a bevy of young but accomplished players, especially at the guard position, and are desperate for the kind of blue-chip talent that many believe Simmons is. Derrick White is my favorite of these names; the Colorado product is a high-caliber two-way player. Dejounte Murray is an elite defensive guard, but leaves a lot to be desired offensively. Trading Simmons would leave a massive defensive hole in the Sixers roster, so Murray could make a lot of sense as a major piece coming to Philadelphia. Keldon Johnson might quietly be the Spurs’ most valuable prospect at this time, Johnson’s sophomore campaign was very impressive. Devin Vassell is an excellent wing prospect who the Sixers would love to have, and Reading, PA native Lonnie Walker IV could bolster their bench rotation to a decent extent. If the Sixers aim to plug as many holes as possible, they could do so by bringing back Thaddeus Young or adding Jakob Poeltl, who would be an excellent backup center behind Embiid.
The most bizarre Simmons trade would be one sending him to the Golden State Warriors. How exactly would Simmons fit with Draymond Green, who certainly will not be available? How would the Sixers get better in the present by pulling off a deal centered around Andrew Wiggins and James Wiseman? Warriors rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are both intriguing prospects. Would Wiggins, Wiseman, one of the rookies and a haul of draft picks be enough for the Sixers? If it is, is that an amenable price for Golden State? This one would be quite tricky to pull off.
The Indiana Pacers make a ton of sense to me, just because of how simple it all can be: Malcolm Brogdon fits the exact archetype of player the Sixers should be looking for in return for Simmons. Caris LeVert would also make sense in Philadelphia as a secondary creator. Post-injury TJ Warren could be a great buy-low candidate for the Sixers at a reasonable salary. Even a role player like Justin Holiday or Jeremy Lamb would make a ton of sense. And if you’re Indiana, you have a stretch five in Myles Turner who can help space the floor for Simmons, and you have a lack of star talent like Simmons. There are many interchangeable pieces here, and it’s what makes this a greater possibility in my view than in the general public’s.
Long shots: Sacramento Kings, Charlotte Hornets, Dallas Mavericks
The Sacramento Kings have two excellent assets in guards De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Fox represents one of the best players the Sixers could conceivably get in return for Simmons, and Haliburton may be the most intriguing young prospect. But according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Kings are not willing to trade either of those players in a Simmons deal. That leaves malcontent Buddy Hield, beleaguered Marvin Bagley III and a whole lot of unappetizing pieces. Unless Sacramento makes a sudden shift, I won’t have any interest in their potential offers.
This would have been a laughable idea just a year ago, but what about a package from the Hornets centered around Gordon Hayward? Despite many injuries, Hayward is a high-caliber, versatile playmaker who would drastically improve the Sixers’ half-court offense. The Hornets have several other interesting pieces as well: one would assume they do not want to part with incoming rookie James Bouknight or recently-extended Terry Rozier. But they still have other intriguing young pieces: PJ Washington would fit well in Philly, as would Miles Bridges. Charlotte could put together an offer -- one surrounding Hayward, a young player and a collection of draft picks -- that would intrigue me quite a bit.
The most interesting long shot is Dallas. As Kristaps Porzingis continues to crumble under the pressure of being the Robin to Luka Doncic’s Batman, it would make sense for Dallas to look at other options. A team built around Doncic and Simmons would be incredibly fascinating -- however, Porzingis does not solve any of the Sixers’ problems. So my idea here is this: a three-team trade sending Simmons to Dallas, Porzingis to a third team, and assets from that third team to the Sixers.
I wish I could conclude this piece with something substantive. But this may be an unprecedented situation, and I won’t pretend I have a crystal ball. So let’s all hope that these trade talks advance in the coming days and weeks.