We’re late into the offseason. The draft is over. The free agency frenzy came and went. The Summer Sixers had their run in Vegas.
Yet, Ben Simmons is still — and might remain — a Sixer. The talented but flawed All-Star has been the subject of trade rumors all summer. While it’s been fairly quiet on the Simmons front recently, it got us thinking:
If Simmons and the Sixers truly can’t reconcile — and players like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal aren’t on the market — what is the worst value you’re willing to accept in return?
A bunch of us here at Liberty Ballers weighed in … and the responses varied.
Don’t discount the value of picks
A wise man once preached the value in having the longest view in the room, and I see no reason to believe otherwise in a Simmons trade.
I’m higher on receiving draft equity in return for Simmons than most. I think if you’re not doing a deal for Damian Lillard/another star then you should at least set yourself up for one. The bare minimum that I would accept for Simmons would be a deal packaged around a capable point guard along with draft equity. I would probably say something like Malcolm Brogdon and a bare minimum of three first-round picks (that aren’t swaps).
I would personally love Brogdon’s fit with not just Joel Embiid, but also Tyrese Maxey — who I assume will eventually earn a starting role. Brogdon would provide a capable playmaker who can run an offense, which would ease Maxey in as a starter. Having three first-round picks to package along with the Sixers’ own picks would also provide some sweetener in any future deal. The Sixers should also look specifically in acquiring a first-round pick for 2025. If it’s a fully unprotected pick that could allow them to avoid the Stepien Rule, which could give them much more flexibility in future deals.
A Spurs package
Let me start with this: I only pull the trigger if the relationship between Simmons and the Sixers cannot be reconciled. Otherwise, I hold onto Simmons and wait to see how the Lillard situation unfolds.
In that event, this trade is the most palatable:
Top-ten protected first-round pick (2022)
First-round pick swap (2023)
First-round pick (2025)
In Murray you get a former All-Defensive Team guard with offensive upside at just 25 years old. Murray doesn’t have the size and versatility of Simmons, but he helps fill a defensive void — with a willingness to shoot offensively.
Johnson is a big-bodied guard that flashes strong shot creation and finishing skills. While he’s still a little raw at 21, he has an insane motor on both ends which could help the Sixers’ bench immediately.
The picks are a lot, but I’m asking for a lot. The 2025 pick is easier for the Spurs to do because they’ll likely own the Bulls’ first-rounder that year. While Murray and Johnson are talented young players, Simmons could be a game-changer — Pop will probably turn him into Kawhi — for the Spurs, who still have intriguing young talent after this deal.
While I’m resigned to Simmons likely remaining a Sixer at the start of the season, if you put a Jack Bauer-style countdown up and said a trade had to happen today or someone’s daughter would be eaten by a cougar, I would call San Antonio. My minimum return would be Murray, Derrick White, Chicago’s 2025 first-round pick (top-10 protected Year 1), and San Antonio’s 2022 and 2024 first-round picks.
Murray’s shooting regressed when asked to hoist at a higher volume last year (31.7 percent on 3.0 attempts per game), but he has shot nearly 80 percent from the foul line each of the past two seasons, so there’s room for optimism. More importantly, with an NBA All-Defensive team honor already, Murray could fill in for Simmons as an elite point-of-attack defender. White has been about league-average from three for his career and dramatically increased his volume to 6.8 attempts per game last season. He is also a terrific defender, and one of the better shot-blocking guards in the league.
Neither player has the potential ceiling of Simmons, but they’ve still yet to hit their primes. Both would be valuable two-way players as part of a playoff rotation, and if a disgruntled star does become available later, you’d still be in a good place to offer some combination of Murray, White, Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, and the draft assets.
The worst Simmons offer I’d accept: Murray, White, two first-round picks from San Antonio.
I think the Sixers absolutely have to trade Simmons. It’s a suboptimal situation given the lack of an available star on the market. Simmons is the biggest remaining bullet the Sixers have as they try to win a title during Embiid’s prime. I wouldn’t trade him for nothing, but I don’t think the Sixers will have to.
Some reliable reporting has come about the ugliness going on — Simmons and Doc Rivers’ potentially “irreparable” relationship, Simmons’ refusal to communicate with Embiid, Morey and Rivers. People seem to assume that if you carry Ben into the season, his value will inevitably rise and things will be hunky dory. I don’t envision such a smooth outcome.
Simmons is likely to at least attempt to hold out, and what he’s taught us all to assume is that he will come back as the same player as he was last season. He won’t be as bad as he was against Atlanta, but hoping for him to eliminate any of his offensive deficiencies is like hoping he’ll show up to camp 8-feet tall.
With this move, the Sixers would acquire two players to help them win now, while adding picks to the ones they already have, which, combined with Maxey and Thybulle, should get you awfully close to that star player.
Maybe … just don’t trade him?
“It doesn’t appear salvageable,” was the phrase an Athletic source used a year ago to describe the r’ship between Rudy & Donovan. Then winning happened in Utah. If Dame isn’t even on the block, it’s worth running this thing back!
A) Dame may ask out by X-Mas and voila, you’ve likely maintained your standing as favorites to acquire the HOF guard, B) if not, you still have the top interior (Joel) and top perimeter (Ben) defenders in the NBA.
Management would have to onboard a Colangelo if they wanted me to trade Ben for some crappy return that diminishes my 2022 title odds and diminishes my chances to acquire Dame.
“Hey Joel, don’t worry, the three future picks I got from Memphis will surely help us in two years when CP3 turns 56 and Booker asks out!”
Now, if they did, and Jerry and Bryan wanted to know my bottom line or I’m fired? I’d give Sacramento a call about De’Aaron Fox. And if they wanted mustard on that hotdog, I’d even point to the outside chance Fox might be better value over the next four seasons than Dame but a fraction of the price. #Runitback
As the leader of the “Keep Ben Simmons Army,” I have been standing on this hill defending my man, Benjamin, since the end of the Atlanta Hawks series. It’s not always easy (especially given the proclivities of one Steve J. Lipman), but I continue to fight the good fight.
Hey, Steve. How ya doin’, buddy?
It’s impossible for me to not see how the winds are blowing, though. “Mr. Half Glass Full” is my moniker around here. As bad as things are, they could be worse. If Ben Simmons is traded to another team, the best case scenario, of course, would be Lillard or Beal, but there’s no indication that either want out of their current situations in Portland and Washington, respectively.
A worst-case scenario in my opinion would be something of a “poo poo” platter. For example, the Minnesota Timberwolves are VERY in the tank for Simmons, and I’m hoping (even though I know he’s not that foolish) that Daryl Morey won’t settle for some package of Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley and some combination of picks. That’s the worst case scenario for me.
That or Zach LaVine. I just don’t believe in him.