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Report: Sixers have started Ben Simmons trade talks, seeking “All-Star-caliber player”

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2021 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers’ offseason is underway, and the obvious subject everyone is focused on is what lies ahead for Ben Simmons. After the Sixers’ epic collapse against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs which featured a disastrous run of offensive play from Simmons, it certainly looks like it’s time for both sides to move on and find a fresh start. And the most pressing question isn’t so much if the Sixers will look at trading Simmons, but when.

Well, here we go. The Athletic’s Shams Charania has reported in his latest NBA news piece that trade talks are starting to ramp up for Philly. Charania noted that Daryl Morey has been looking for ways to improve the team’s roster since their playoff exit and explained that trade conversations have begun. Another important detail from Charania’s report is that interest in Simmons is strong (which shouldn’t be surprising when considering his age and talent level, even after the kind of series he had against Atlanta which showed his lack of offensive growth):

The 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams, sources told The Athletic. Those sources also say that teams that have engaged with the 76ers about Simmons have been met with a high price threshold for the three-time All-Star.

“(The 76ers) want an All-Star-caliber player in return,” one source with knowledge of the ongoing talks said.

Make no mistake: Interest across the league in Simmons remains robust. He’s turning just 25 this month, was an All-NBA team member in 2019-20, is a two-time All-Defensive first-team member and a Rookie of the Year award winner. Simmons is under contract through 2025, making him the type of superstar talent that rarely becomes available at an attainable price at this juncture of his career.

Morey was never going to rush to trade Simmons for the sake of just making a move. The Sixers’ president of basketball operations is only going to make a move when he gets the return he’s after, and clearly has his sights set on a fair return if he’s looking for an All-Star-level player and interest in Simmons is relatively high.

So who could that All-Star-level player be? At the moment that’s unclear. Bradley Beal has long been a popular target among Sixers fans and Damian Lillard is the new ideal acquisition given the situation in Portland, but we’ll have to wait and see if those players actually become available in the coming months. If Lillard could be attainable, the Sixers should absolutely do all they can to build a package around Simmons to make the best offer they can.

After players like Beal and Lillard, Zach LaVine is someone else who deserves the Sixers’ interest. The 2021 first-time All-Star averaged a career-high 27.4 points per game this season on elite efficiency with a 63.4 true shooting percentage, improved his ability to get to the rim, sharpened his passing, and continued to prove that he’s one of the best pull-up three-point shooters in the league. In other words, LaVine would do a lot to address the Sixers’ lacking perimeter creation to help elevate the offense alongside Joel Embiid. Plus, compared to a top-tier talent like Lillard, LaVine (who also only has one more year left on his contract) will be cheaper to acquire. Whether LaVine or the Chicago Bulls have any real interest in moving on remains to be seen, but he’s someone the Sixers should definitely look into if possible.

More details about potential trade partners and who the Sixers could land in return for Simmons should continue to emerge in the coming weeks, so we’ll keep you updated on everything.