Both Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers are ready to move on from each other, but to this point of the offseason, the Sixers have yet to find a team that has a strong enough interest in the three-time All-Star to be willing to part with the kind of package Philly is seeking.
Simmons turned up the pressure a bit this week when his camp let it be known that he wants out and also doesn’t plan on reporting to training camp in October. If the Sixers were planning on trying to wait until into the season to deal him in hopes that his value would increase, those plans were made much more difficult by Simmons’ official demand. To this point, though, the only reports about trade discussions involving Simmons are about teams who refuse to meet the Sixers’ asking price.
The Spurs and Raptors balked at Philly’s request for a massive haul of picks and players, while the Kings have reportedly been unwilling to part with either of their young, talented guards. The Timberwolves have interest, but have dreams of a Towns-Russell-Edwards-Simmons core, which leaves them with few enticing players to include.
All told, things look bleak as of now with regards to their goal of finding a deal, but one popular trade idea continues to float about in the ether. A Simmons for CJ McCollum trade has been a favorite of trade machine users for some time, but the Sixers have been holding out hope for a bigger prize in Blazers talks, hoping to land Damian Lillard. That won’t be happening this offseason barring something unforeseen happening, and if the Sixers were to be willing to make a Simmons-McCollum swap, it sounds as though the Blazers also have some trepidation about such a move.
Moving McCollum seems to be a last gasp option for Portland in trying to keep Lillard in town, and as such, they have to believe a Simmons deal would vault them into contender status. According to Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian, who spoke with Gina Mizell of the Philadelphia Inquirer
I love the fit for both teams. However, I’ve been told by some within the Blazers organization that they are not sure how well Simmons and Lillard would fit together. Simmons wants to play the Magic Johnson role, which requires having the ball in his hands. Well, that’s Lillard’s job. I could see Lillard playing off the ball more often but in the end, it’s his team and he will want the ball the majority of the time. That would force Simmons to play a role he isn’t used to.
It would certainly require an adjustment from both players, but it doesn’t seem all that difficult to envision how those two could fit snugly together. There would have to be buy-in on both sides, with each sacrificing a touch of usage, but Simmons’ ability as a slasher off the ball, Lillard’s abilities as a spot-up shooter, and the obvious boost Simmons would provide defensively would seem to outweigh the potential for the two to butt heads a touch over who should have the ball (the answer in Portland would almost always be “Dame,” to be clear).
It’s the job of a front office to consider all possible outcomes of a deal, positive and negative, so the Blazers surely see how the fit could work as well. This seems more to be a team not ready to shuffle the deck in a big way (despite the hopes of Lillard). As such it’s easier to look for how any deal could go wrong, and, for now, everyone’s favorite fake Simmons trade will remain on ice.