The NBA offseason is underway for most teams at this point, with various coaching hires and trade rumors occurring. As for the Philadelphia 76ers, the obvious subject everyone’s focused on is what the future holds for Ben Simmons. The Sixers could well hang onto Simmons, aim to put in the “right work” with him this summer (as Doc Rivers described it), and wait to be more active in trade talks next season once they’ve seen if Simmons can make any improvements. Perhaps his value could increase from where teams rate him right now, or other players could become available. Daryl Morey won’t send Simmons away unless he gets the return he’s after. But there’s a real chance that a trade happens this offseason if the right offer emerges.
A lot of the discussion from Wolves fans has centered on Ben Simmons. The All-Star flamed out spectacularly in the playoffs for Philadelphia, leading to widespread speculation that Daryl Morey will have to break up the Joel Embiid-Simmons core to try to reconfigure the roster and get over the hump.
The Timberwolves pride themselves on getting involved in trade talks, and sources indicate that they will be in on Simmons in addition to a number of other players as they try to vault into playoff contention in the Western Conference.
Dane Moore, who covers the Timberwolves, has also reported that Elton Brand and Minnesota’s president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas had some early discussions about a Simmons trade at the NBA’s draft combine.
Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas and 76ers General Manager Elton Brand met in Chicago during the NBA combine, sources say, where a Ben Simmons trade to Minnesota was discussed.— Dane Moore (@DaneMooreNBA) July 9, 2021
The negotiations are not substantive at this time, sources say.
Pursuing Simmons makes a lot of sense for the Timberwolves. He’d give them a major lift on defense after they ranked 28th in defensive rating this year, and Karl-Anthony Towns is pretty much the perfect offensive center to place next to him and space the floor. Towns is probably the best three-point shooting big we’ve seen with his versatile skillset, efficiency and volume — he’s made 39.9 percent of his threes on 7 attempts per game over the last two seasons. And ultimately, the Timberwolves just want to add what talent they can to climb up from 13th place in the Western Conference.
So what could the Timberwolves offer?
Krawczynski noted the following in his piece, which makes acquiring either of the team’s top guards, D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards, sound very unlikely (Edwards would be most intriguing after his impressive play later into his rookie year and his off-the-bounce skill and upside, but that should make him even harder to land):
Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell (the Timberwolves view Russell as a part of the core and want to keep it that way, sources said) give coach Chris Finch three accomplished offensive players to get buckets down the stretch.
Basically, the Sixers aren’t getting Towns (duh), Edwards, or Russell. This is where interest disappears in a hurry from Philly’s perspective. Malik Beasley would likely be the player leading the package, plus Ricky Rubio or other players to match salaries and some draft compensation. Beasley would definitely help the Sixers somewhat. He’s improved his ability to attack a bit off the bounce and would primarily help as a high-volume, efficient, off-movement shooter, but he certainly wouldn’t fix the Sixers’ main issues in terms of missing ball-handling, perimeter creation and playmaking.
Any Simmons trade where the best player returning is someone like Beasley should prompt the Sixers to hang up quickly. Building a trade package around Simmons is the Sixers’ best route to acquiring the kind of talented perimeter creator that they’re missing to help lead the offense alongside Joel Embiid. They have to maximize any potential deal and address that weakness as well as they possibly can. The Timberwolves can’t offer that, and they don’t even much draft capital to sweeten a deal after trading this year’s first-round pick in the D’Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade.
If the Sixers and Timberwolves were to make a trade, it should really include a third team to ensure Philly can secure more in return and ideally land the kind of creative guard that they need most. That could be a possibility, but for now we’ll just have to wait and see. Alternatively, the Timberwolves could simply be outbid in any Simmons sweepstakes this summer.
There’ll surely be plenty of Simmons rumors in the coming weeks, especially once the NBA Finals are over and offseason activity ramps up. We’ll keep you up to date with everything that’s going on.