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Liberty Ballers Mailbag: who’s the main option if Dame is in Philly with Joel, & Ben Simmons stuff

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another Liberty Ballers mailbag. We got some fun and intriguing questions about your 13-11, 6th place Sixers riding a two-game winning streak. Let’s dive right in.

1) Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons stuff from @Solisreport

DE: The latest gossip is that Ben Simmons apparently “liked” a tweet suggesting Dame wants to play with Ben in Portland and that Kyrie is maybe open to a plant-based vaccine.... Our brains look for movie-style tidy solutions and swapping these two players would be so hollywood. Where things stand now, I’d guess Simmons is more likely to be traded ahead of the deadline than Irving because he has the extra years on his salary. The Nets may look at some 65 cents-on-the-dollar-offers for Kyrie and say “meh, let’s hope for a game changing plant-vaxx by March!”

SC: Nick Sirianni is planting flowers and watching them bloom in South Philly. Could he be the key to Irving’s plant-based vaccine?!? I’ll hang up and listen.

2) Why is Ben Simmons not required to sit on the bench at Sixers home games? @BJRieken

DE: My guess is that all bets are off when you’re dealing with a player suggesting they’re not mentally ready to play. The Sixers are probably picking their battles, and what they would value most would be him practicing in full and ramping up to play, more so than the bench-sitting.

SC: Ben Simmons sitting on the bench during these games would create even more of a distraction than this whole ordeal has already been. It’s best for both parties that this doesn’t happen.

3) If Ben for McCollum happens what further moves does the team have to make to be a real contender? @chickenparmtips

DE: This question came in before it was announced that the Lehigh product is dealing with a collapsed lung. LB sends love and prayers to CJ and his family for a speedy recovery. He is always a thrill to watch play ball.

4) Who’s the main option if Dame is in Philly with Joel @TuziSZN

DE: I think the short answer here is that it would be a 1-2 punch depending on who has a better matchup, but the ideal version would feature Lillard as the main option. Lillard simply stepping foot over half court with the ball is scary for opposing defenses. Embiid not having to carry a team offensively would allow him to be perhaps the league’s premier number two scorer but more importantly, become a genuine DPOY candidate and stay fresh for the playoffs.

SC: A top-tier big man scorer is always going to take a backseat to a top-tier perimeter scorer. It’s just the nature of the modern game. When getting into crunch time and high-level situations come the postseason, having a guard of Damian Lillard’s caliber to create his own shot is exactly why the Sixers would be overjoyed to have him in Philly. This isn’t to say that Joel Embiid himself still couldn’t get his 25, 26, 27 points per night. Having a threat like Lillard will make it so much easier for Embiid to operate in the paint, but a lead guard who packs that type of scoring punch is the top dog on offense. Embiid’s tenure in Philadelphia and ability as a two-way force would keep him as the Sixers’ “best” player, though Lillard would act as the primary bucket-getter.

5) Is it just me or does the 1st team offense look very aimless at times? Like the plan late game seems to be pass aimlessly for 20 seconds, then 1. Pass to Joel while he is double covered and expect him to make a low % midrange or 2. Maxey makes wild sprinting drive at the basket @bigseb31213

SC: It’s fun to blame Doc Rivers and I sure do at times, but there’s a talent deficit when it comes to high-level offensive creators right now. Tyrese Maxey has flashed a ton this season and has all the makings of a very good player in the future. Seth Curry has been a flamethrower, but isn’t a prototypical lead guard. Tobias Harris is... Tobias Harris. It’s going to continue being a tad iffy on offense, some fire nights, some that make you want to pull your hair out, until this Simmons situation gets settled.

DE: The fans (or players) may not miss him emotionally, but the team really suffers without Ben Simmons. When you’re holding the opposition to field goals in the red zone you don’t need to score 35 points every night yourselves. Dropping from a top tier D (2nd) to a middling one (17th) exaccerbates other issues.

6) What position should the Sixers target in a Ben Simmons trade and why? @greedisgood70

SC: I’m not quite sure the Sixers are able to get “star” talent in return for Simmons at this point. What is he worth around the league? How do other teams view him as a player given his myriad of playoff struggles and then his absence from the team for “personal reasons” since this seasons started? I’d be hoping for a package of a well-rounded perimeter player, a non-liability on defense who can shoot and distribute a bit, as well as a collection of picks that bring future optionality.

DE: I don’t think they should seek a position. I think they should just target the top talent, even if it’s a weird fit like Zion Williamson. But a stalwart stopper who can also score on the wing like OG Anunoby would be a lift to the current rotation; and of course Dame would be the best combo of need and fit.

7) What are the sixers going to do with Tobi? Nice role player but likely never going to be an all star again being paid max $$ @Fbsaltfly

DE: Tough. The more fake Ben Simmons trades I do, the more I look at the new Sixers I’ve created and start to wonder how I can then trade Harris to reduce new problems I introduced. Sadly, I think they’ll get more serious about finding Harris his 6th team come the summer.

SC: It’s hard to imagine moving on from both Simmons and Harris given the latter’s salary of $36 million this season and the ensuing financial ripple effects. The Harris contract is pretty horrendous in retrospect in that it locked in a non-championship-level core around Embiid. A future Harris trade, one that I hope happens this summer following an in-season Simmons deal, may, unfortunately, be more of a straight salary dump than one where the Sixers recoup true value back. Not great!

8) Who is going to guard Embiid tonight? 6’7 PJ Washington? @jakepul4

SC: Perhaps Michael Jeffrey Jordan himself will suit up and head out there?

DE: He had 43 points on 20 shots last time around. I think Shamus is right, MJ should try it.