The Ben Simmons drama in Philadelphia has extended into training camp, with the most recent development involving the team withholding $8.25 million of Simmons’ salary on Friday. A trade would obviously be best for all parties involved, but the Sixers understandably want a return somewhat approximating fair value. In reporting today from The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, we were provided a current list of suitors for Ben’s services:
The team on that list that hasn’t been oft-discussed in regards to a Simmons trade is the Detroit Pistons, so let’s examine the possibilities of such a deal. Obviously, rookie first overall pick Cade Cunningham would be completely off limits, and I believe 22-year-old Saddiq Bey would be as well, fresh off an All-Rookie first team selection.
The cornerstone of the return would likely need to revolve around former Sixer Jerami Grant, who signed a three-year, $60 million deal with the Pistons last offseason, thereafter averaging a career-high 22.3 points per game in his first season in Detroit. At 27 years old and with only two years left on his deal, Grant wouldn’t be as likely to overlap with the prime of Detroit’s young core as might a 25-year-old Ben Simmons under contract through the 2024-25 season. The Sixers would have to determine if a Grant-Tobias Harris combination at the forwards would be the best path forward, given both players are likely best suited to play the four.
Among other pieces to round out the deal, 2020 seventh overall pick Killian Hayes probably doesn’t make sense for either side. The Pistons would be loathe to give up on a 20-year-old with potential, while the Sixers wouldn’t view him as a guy ready to help now during Joel Embiid’s prime. Someone who would make a ton of sense would be veteran Cory Joseph, who re-signed with Detroit this offseason on a two-year deal, with next year a player option. The Sixers have been linked to Joseph in the past, who would represent a terrific backup point guard option and contingency plan if Shake Milton’s shift to the position doesn’t go smoothly.
Another possibility might be Kelly Olynyk, who signed a three-year, $37 million deal in free agency. As a career 36.7 percent three-point shooter, Olynyk would be the answer to the long-awaited stretch big quandary for the Sixers. After seeing the limitations with Dwight Howard as the backup 5 last postseason, another option at the position in lieu of the paint-shackled Andre Drummond would be most welcome. One restriction surrounding both Olynyk and Joseph is that neither player can be included in a deal until mid-December.
While it’s a far cry from a package headlined by Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, a Pistons deal bringing back Grant, Olynyk or Joseph, and draft compensation could represent a bridge deal to assist the Sixers in the present, while leaving the asset war chest stocked should another opportunity arise later. The main questions would be whether Daryl Morey would want to throw in the towel on his superstar hunt, and whether Simmons’ value has fallen so far that the Pistons would find even a deal such as this untenable.