Landing Spots for Ben Simmons
Cleveland is going to be prominently involved in any/all trade rumors right now as a result of the looming decision they have to make on their young backcourt. Collin Sexton is the first guy up approaching a potential payday, and reports suggest they’re willing to move him for the right deal as they try to get back to the playoffs post-LeBron.
Individually, I think Sexton and teammate Darius Garland are both good young players. Garland was absolutely killing a lot of people down the stretch of this season, and Sexton has gotten better every year for Cleveland, improving his overall efficiency and playmaking while assuming a bigger burden as a scorer. I would just be skeptical of how quickly that can translate to a team looking to win and centered around Joel Embiid.
I’m not sure either guy is good enough at enough things to be the highlight of a Simmons package. If you could combine Garland’s flashier handle and superior playmaking ability with Sexton’s scoring ability, that’d be an ideal fit with the roster they’d join. But I don’t think you can wait to see if Garland hits the next level as a scorer, or for Sexton to create as many shots for teammates as he’d need to.
Sacramento was a team we heard connected to the Sixers all throughout last offseason in a much different context. Viewed as a potential dumping ground for Al Horford’s contract, many Sixers fans were hoping for a potential acquisition of Buddy Hield.
I like Hield well enough, but a trade package for Simmons centered around Hield would not even be worth discussing on Philadelphia’s end. The big prize is undoubtedly 23-year-old guard De’Aaron Fox, and it seems highly unlikely the Kings want to make a trade for Simmons that sends their best player back to Philadelphia and hampers their ability to make a playoff push.
Let’s assume for a second they’d include Fox for the sake of argument. Fox is a very good young player — he’s coming off of a season where he averaged 25.2 points and 7.2 assists per game with a better than 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, and he did so in the Western Conference pressure cooker.
Fox is one of the few players in the league with the speed to challenge or even beat Simmons in the open floor, and the Sixers could maintain a healthy transition attack while gaining a more eager half-court attacker in the process.
Toronto being interested is not a huge shocker Masai Ujiri is shrewd enough to look for buy-low opportunities anywhere they might pop up on the marketplace but it’s not immediately clear to me what sort of deal the Sixers would make with the Raptors that would come without a significant downside.
A sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry is the first place a lot of people will drift to, despite the salary cap complications that come with such a pact, but let’s set that aside. Lowry would absolutely offer something different as an offensive player in the halfcourt for Philadelphia, and he would also significantly shorten Philadelphia’s title window with this group. It’s basically the exact inverse of the Cavs situation.
If the Sixers get one or two legitimate cracks at the title as a result of that sort of deal, you could argue it’s worth it for that opportunity alone, but that’s far from a certainty with the Eastern Conference roadblocks in front of them, and if you don’t cash in during that time, some sort of outlier development on your bench (e.g. a star turn for Tyrese Maxey) would be necessary in order to expand the title window for the next few years of Embiid’s prime from 2023 onward.