Rumors have been flying around about the 76ers trading Ben Simmons this offseason. Although it may sound like a certainty that Simmons will be traded, the Sixers will not just trade him for the sake of trading him. Philadelphia has to be confident that they are receiving an upgrade.
Ben Simmons has been rumored to be traded to nearly every team in the league after his disappointing playoffs performance. The 76ers are in a win now situation, and while Simmons was disappointing, he is still an all-star caliber player. The average fan on the internet seems to believe Simmons’ trade value is much lower than reality. There are plenty of mock trades out there suggesting the Sixers should trade Simmons for players like Kemba Walker or CJ McCollum. Those players are downgrades for Philadelphia. It was confirmed that Ben Simmons’ trade value is much higher than public perception when the 76ers reportedly declined an offer from the Indiana Pacers that included Malcolm Brogdon and the Pacers 13th overall pick in this year’s draft.
With all that being said I believe it is quite obvious the 76ers will not trade Ben Simmons for a player at or below Malcolm Brogdon’s caliber. Brogdon is a good player, he averaged 21.2 points per game and 5.9 assists per game last season, but both myself and the Sixers’ front office agree he is not an upgrade over Ben Simmons. That is why I believe there are only seven players that are at least slightly realistic trade targets that the 76ers should target in a trade involving Ben Simmons.
28.8 PPG – 7.5 APG – 4.2 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 10/10
This is the dream scenario for the Sixers. Lillard has self-proclaimed himself as one of the most loyal players in the NBA, and his track record backs it up. Lillard was drafted by the Portland Trailblazers in 2012, making him tied with Bradley Beal as the 4th longest-tenured player in the league. Up until this offseason, it seemed like Lillard had no intentions of ever leaving Portland, but after yet another early postseason exit, and drama around the Blazers new head coaching hire of Chauncey Billups, there have been several reports of Lillard potentially finally wanting out of Portland.
If Lillard does end up requesting out of Portland, a trade to the 76ers makes almost too much sense for both sides. Portland has been stuck in a cycle of losing in the playoffs year after year and it may finally be time to hit the reset button. Ben Simmons desperately needs a fresh start, and having a 3-time all-star lead your rebuild is certainly intriguing for the Blazers. Also, if Lillard were to request a trade, he would certainly want to go to a contender. The 76ers fit the bill, having been to the playoffs in 4 straight seasons, and having the MVP runner-up in Joel Embiid. Not to mention, Philadelphia is in the Eastern Conference, and Portland would most likely find it more attractive to send Lillard to the opposite conference.
As far as fit with the 76ers, Lillard would slide right into Ben Simmons’ spot in the starting lineup. Even if Philadelphia ends up needing to send one of or both Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle to sweeten the deal, the Sixers would be able to run a very similar starting lineup with a swap of Simmons for Lillard. Not to mention if Lillard were to join Philadelphia, several veterans would likely love to join the team on a discount. Similarly to the Brooklyn Nets being able to sign Blake Griffin and Jeff Green on cheap deals, I am sure many other players would love to join a team featuring Lillard, who finished with the 3rd most points per game this season, and Embiid, who finished with the 4th most points per game this season.
27.7 PPG – 8.6 APG – 8.0 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia 10/10
Being completely honest, this one would take a miracle to happen. The only reason this has any possible chance (which it still does not really) is the coaching and front office overhaul happening in Dallas this offseason. There were reports of Doncic feuding with the front office in Dallas, which were backed up by the firing of long-time Head Coach Rick Carlise and long-time President of Basketball Operations Donnie Nelson. That being said, Dallas would have to screw up big time in order for Doncic to demand a trade, which is the 76ers only hope of acquiring him.
Do not get your hopes up Sixers fans. On the contrary, if Doncic did happen to want out of Dallas, Philadelphia would be insane not to try their best at acquiring the young phenom. Could you imagine Doncic and Embiid on the same team for the next decade? But, those dreams of beautiful basketball will most certainly remain dreams unless everything went perfect for the 76ers. That would include Doncic demanding a trade, and then most likely requesting to go to Philadelphia. That is a lot to ask for, and is not realistic, but technically not impossible either.
27.4 PPG – 4.9 APG – 5.0 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 7/10
Zach LaVine to the 76ers would be a pretty interesting scenario for both Philadelphia and Chicago. LaVine has one year left on his contract, and if he makes it known he does not want to return to Chicago, the Bulls would be remiss to let LaVine walk in free agency for nothing instead of trading him. Despite being drafted in 2013, LaVine has yet to make the playoffs in his career. The Bulls did just trade for all-star Nikola Vucevic at last season’s trade deadline, but it still was not enough to get the Bulls into the play-in tournament, let alone the playoffs. I am not convinced Vucevic in Chicago for a full season gets the Bulls to the playoffs either.
If the Sixers were able to trade Simmons for LaVine, the work would not be done for Daryl Morey and Elton Brand. LaVine can play shooting guard, and possibly small forward, but the Sixers would have to go find their new starting point guard as well. Whether that be Tyrese Maxey or a new addition in the offseason. LaVine, just like everyone on this list, would bring much needed perimeter scoring to pair with Joel Embiid’s inside scoring and Tobias Harris’ inside and outside scoring ability.
31.3 PPG – 4.4 APG – 4.7 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 7/10
As mentioned earlier, Beal is tied with Damian Lillard for the 4th longest-tenured player in the league. Beal has had even less postseason success than Lillard has in Portland. And Beal demonstrated exactly what he would bring to the team in the first round of the playoffs. All while being guarded by ironically the player he might be traded for in Ben Simmons, Beal averaged 30 points per game against Philadelphia in this year’s postseason. Simmons was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, making Beal’s performance that much more impressive.
The Wizards barely made the playoffs this year even after adding former MVP Russell Westbrook. No one would blame the Wizards for finally trying to rebuild. Beal and Westbrook do not match the timeline of the rest of the team. Beal and Westbrook have both played for at least 8 seasons, meanwhile the rest of the roster is extremely young. Like LaVine, Beal would bring great perimeter scoring but would leave the 76ers with a need at point guard. Also it would leave the role of Seth Curry in question. With LaVine, Curry could play shooting guard and LaVine small forward. Beal can only play shooting guard, like Curry, so Curry would either come off the bench or be included in another trade for a point guard.
22.2 PPG – 11.7 APG – 11.5 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 5/10
A swap of Simmons and Westbrook might not be the most attractive for Sixers fans, but it would be the most entertaining. Westbrook brings the same spacing issue as Ben Simmons except their shooting mentalities are the exact opposite. Simmons does not shoot enough and Westbrook shoots too much. They bring nearly identical skills to the team. The one big difference being Westbrook’s better scoring but worse defense. Both of them are athletic point guards who fill the stat sheet with triple doubles and are below average shooters.
The same reason the Wizards would trade Beal applies to Westbrook. For Philadelphia, the trade would essentially test if the makeup of the roster is correct. If Simmons and Westbrook’s skillsets both do not lead to a Championship, then the Sixers were just pairing Joel Embiid with the wrong style of player. It would be an extremely risky trade for Philadelphia. For starters, Westbrook is 32, so the Sixers’ championship window would shrink by a lot. Some people forget that Simmons is just 24 years old.
Digging deeper, there are some real benefits that Westbrook brings to the team that do not show up in the stat sheet. His experience is one thing, being a former league MVP and playing in an NBA Finals are unique accolades that he can use to lead the team. Speaking of leading the team, his leadership would be exactly what this team needs. Westbrook is one of, if not the most passionate player in the league. The 76ers looked like they lacked that passion to win at points during their loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. Westbrook could change the culture in the locker room for the better. Bradley Beal, Enes Kanter, and Austin Rivers have all said that Westbrook is the best teammate they have ever played with.
25.2 PPG – 7.2 APG – 3.5 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 6/10
Fox is the first player on this list to be younger than Simmons. It may not make sense on paper for a win-now team to get younger, but just because Fox is young does not mean he is not great. Fox has been stuck on a bad Sacramento Kings team his whole career. It would be interesting to see what he would be able to do on a winning team. Fox is a point guard, so the Sixers would not have to make another trade to fix their starting lineup. The main problem lies in the Kings’ willingness to trade Fox. For a team that is already rebuilding, it would not make much sense to trade the younger Fox for Simmons. Perhaps Simmons’ postseason experience and all-star and all-defensive selections is attractive to the Kings to help lead them out of their league worst 15 season playoff drought.
As far as his fit with the Sixers, Fox also has some three point shooting woes, but they hail in comparison to Simmons’ struggles, as Fox is a 32.2% three-point shooter. Fox also is much more aggressive at attacking the rim and scoring in general than Simmons. There is risk in this trade however. Fox’s lack of team success can be looked as a positive or a negative. On the positive note, Fox has never played with a roster even close to the caliber of the 76ers. Joining a winning team could elevate his game even more. On the flip side, perhaps Fox has some blame in his team’s lack of success, and will not shine as bright when he is no longer the best player on his team. There could also be some recency bias talking here as well. Before this postseason, I would have never called Fox better than Ben Simmons. Was Simmons exposed for what he truly is or can he come back next season improved. I personally would pull the trigger for a Simmons and Fox swap, but I would be lying if I said I was 100% confident it is the right move.
23.7 PPG – 5.9 APG – 4.7 RPG
Fit for Philadelphia: 6/10
Gilgeous-Alexander, like Fox is also younger than Simmons. Also like Fox, Gilgeous-Alexander is on a team that is in a rebuild. For the Thunder however, they are in a much deeper rebuild than the Kings. It does not make too much sense for the Thunder to trade for Simmons, but Thunder GM Sam Presti does love stock-pilling picks. Perhaps they view Simmons as a better asset, or the Thunder finally start using those draft picks they have acquired and Simmons is just the first of many moves for the team.
SGA can play either guard position, so whether the Sixers want to use him at the point guard spot, or play him at shooting guard, it will work out well. He is also a great shooter, shooting a stellar 41.8% from three last season. He really fills the holes Simmons leaves open and is not too much of a downgrade where Simmons is better. Gilgeous-Alexander can shoot and be relied on as a scorer, unlike Simmons. Although SGA is not as good as Simmons as passing or defending, Shai is still above average at both.
Photo via: David Zalubowski, Associated Press
If the Sixers are going to trade Ben Simmons, these are the seven names they need to have on their list. They cannot just trade Simmons just to trade him, but they also need to be aggressive and go for an upgrade, even if it means losing a player like Tyrese Maxey or Matisse Thybulle.
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