The Liberty Ballers podcast network has been absolutely crushing it recently. Adio Royster hosts “Out of Sight” and recently had on our own Harrison Grimm to talk about the team with the most reported interest in acquiring Ben Simmons, the Minnesota Timberwolves. On a recent episode of “The Gastroenteritis Blues” Steve Lipman and Dan Volpone hosted The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski to get into some Sixers-Timberwolves trade scenarios and much more. If you have not done so already check those out then come back here for three takeaways on the recent “Sixers Daily” hosted Jas Kang. Kang interviewed ESPN Insider Brian Windhorst, who hopped on to talk Ben Simmons trade scenarios. Here are three takeaways from that one.
1) Does a Klutch-Simmons holdout threat actually move the needle?
Windhorst doesn’t seem to think Ben Simmons’ camp suggesting their client will in fact hold out comes as this big surprise to the Sixers. Per Kang’s interview, here’s what Windhorst had to offer:
“Just because the public finds out about something, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the player or team is on the same time frame. What I mean by that is I think there’s like this belief that now that Ben’s feelings have gotten public that there’s an impetus to trade him….”
“But they’ve been dealing with this sort of hanging over the team for months now and they operated through their offseason trade discussions knowing all this. So it’s not like just because this happened all of a sudden there’s gonna be this rush. If anything it probably made a trade a little but more difficult because it damaged [Simmons’] value a little bit more, at least in the short term.”
Windhorst, who covered LeBron James’ ascension in Cleveland, is very familiar with both James and his long-time friend and business partner, Rich Paul, CEO of Klutch Sports, the agency Simmons is represented by. I found it intriguing that Windy does not seem to think Klutch’s “chess move” applies a ton of new pressure on the Sixers. The way he frames it, it sounds like it was something that may have disappointed Philadelphia, but not something that comes as new information or puts Daryl Morey and Elton Brand into trade-frenzy mode.
He even goes so far as to suggest this may have made a trade less likely in the short term because Morey has a high asking price and the public maneuvring by Simmons’ camp might diminish trade offers from around the league.
“...this process is something where it’s a lot of “hurry up and wait” where theres a lot of urgency that’s being felt by the fanbase and that’s the purpose of a hold out, to force urgency....
“When I talked to teams.…I was talking to one team…and I heard kind of what their offer was and I thought ‘you know, that’s not that bad of an offer’.... and he said they got the impression either that Daryl [Morey] was holding out for a huge value or he wasn’t seriously looking to trade him, he was going through the motions of trying to look to trade with the intention of actually waiting until later.”
This sentiment, that the Sixers have been merely “going through the motions” of trying to trade Simmons appears to mesh with reports that the Sixers have been asking for a ton back in any potential trade. Recall in late July, we heard that the Sixers were still looking for a “James Harden-type” package here. Windy’s insight makes it sound like Morey may not have come down terribly far at this point; at least not enough to convince some teams he’s serious about getting a deal done before training camp.
We’re all curious how long the Sixers may “go through the motions” here. So far there has been a ton of smoke about a trade, but the closer you study the summer’s worth of rumors and reports coming out of Philly, the team hasn’t seemed as motivated to make a change as the fan base has. And that's likely because they are...
2) Still Star Hunting
The Sixers have been star hunting for a long time and that does not appear to have changed. Kang asked Windhorst if the Sixers might make a “step-trade” or look to land a star directly:
Kang: “...[Will Philadelphia] maybe take a package that’ll be based on futures in the hope to make another deal at some point during the season or is what you’re gathering…they’re gonna try and get another star in here?”
Windhorst: “...you look at what Daryl Morey has done his whole career he’s hunted stars….he’s hunted stars. That’s what he wants, so that’s what he's doing....”
A bit later Windhorst adds:
“If you don’t like what your hand is now there’s no reason to make a trade just to make a trade. You might as well just wait it out. And I think that’s what Simmons realizes too that’s why we're in this situation.”
“There’s two or three other star-level players that are sort of on the watch list in the league….two or three guys on the list right now that NBA teams are watching: is there gonna be some turbulence there could they become available? And I'm sure the Sixers are quite aware of that and they may even have a longer list than two or three, again …this is not poker, you don’t have to play the hand. You can throw the whole hand away and wait for another hand.…”
Actually, not to be too annoying but, if it were poker you technically could throw the hand away and wait for another hand. But point taken, Windy.
Now, I do not believe that the “step trade” idea where the team takes a couple of veterans (let’s say a package based around Malik Beasley, Jaden McDaniels, Pat Beverley and draft picks) necessarily precludes “star hunting.” So even though this question was posed as an either-or, Windhorst’s message is clear. The Sixers would most prefer to get a star back for Ben Simmons. We can infer they’d prefer it be without the risk of waiting for another star down the road. But if that’s not possible, they’ll be looking to get a star another way. At the very least, if you believe Windhorst, you can at least conclude that packages prioritizing fit (e.g. CJ McCollum or Malcolm Brogdon) would seem to be much less likely.
I don’t think the Sixers see those last two names as stars and I don’t think the Sixers would see them as a means to acquire a star. And because both of those dudes can ball I don’t think they’d get a massive bundle of futures along with a borderline All-Star type like that.
Now, who might Windy mean when he says a couple of star-level guys? The pod already touched upon Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal. So he didn’t mean the obvious. Other names I thought of were Zach LaVine. He could mean Devin Booker. If Chris Paul ever slowed down it might happen rather quickly at his age. Perhaps teams are wondering if CP3 is going to play as long as TB12 or not. Maybe if Phoenix hit a slide, having already tasted NBA Finals action, Book would want to compete at the highest level and ask out. What about Donovan Mitchell? Might his tension with Rudy Gobert resurface? Karl Anthony-Towns? Might he hear all of these “Simmons to Minny” rumors and leap at the opportunity to escape the cold?
We could probably play this game all day, but it was fun to hear Windhorst say the Sixers are probably aware of all these scenarios and that Morey is a guy who always seems a step ahead. But you can see why the Sixers would much rather let this drag out. Many of these names are not currently available. Maybe by March one would be.
3. Timeline for a trade?
So Damian Lillard showed some public displays of affection for Rip City recently:
The King of Portland pic.twitter.com/rz3igcnxt6— Rip City Project (@ripcityproject) September 5, 2021
It doesn’t sound like he’s forcing his way out of Oregon just yet. What about Beal?
“I think a big thing for the Sixers fans to watch is the first week of October. Bradley Beal becomes eligible to sign an extension. There’s no short-term deadline on it, it’s not like a rookie extension, where you have to make the move by the end of October. He could theoretically sign an extension, June 30, 2022, but whether or not Beal signs that extension, I think as the season starts, and he hasn’t extended, I think that it frames the transaction game for the upcoming season. People are going to be watching like a hawk trying to pry Bradley Beal out and if he doesn’t extend, people are going to have their eyes on that and so if you’re the Sixers, unless somebody knocks you over with an offer, you’re probably waiting for that at the very least, just to see.
“Not that you could trade Simmons for Beal straight up, but it’s only responsible to wait for something like that.”
So Beal becomes eligible to sign his extension in early October. If he does, he’ll be another big name fans have had their eye on coming “off the board.” If he does not, then that could potentially push out a potential timeline for a trade if indeed Morey thinks he can pry Beal out of Washington. At the very least, as Windhorst says, it’s a week to watch and in the world of Simmons rumors, it means the team potentially heading into training camp and preseason with this situation ongoing.
It seems like mid-October might be the earliest we might see a trade.
Unless a small city team absolutely blows the market out of the water here (and D’Aaron Fox is probably enough to get it done) I would suspect that we’ll see this thing drag for a bit. It just doesn’t make sense to make a hasty move (Windhorst compares it to selling your car or house) only to learn that Beal did not accept his extension, the Blazers are 4-7 through two weeks, and there’s a surprise flop like the 2019 Lakers, 2020 Warriors or 2021 Raptors. Who’s excited for at least another month of Ben Simmons Trade rumors?!
As for the latest betting odds for Simmons’ next team ... here was how they looked when last we checked on them on Sept. 2.
Golden State +300
San Antonio +800
Here’s how they look today:
Golden State +700
San Antonio +900
Oklahoma City +1400
LA Clippers +1800
LA Lakers +2200
Shanghai Sharks +3300 (This is actually on the odds market)
Looks like in the days since the trade request was reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, that the Blazers jumped all the way to the top. Intrigue! The T-Wolves remain at the top as well. The opening day odds are a little different. The Sixers are still the favorites to keep him. They are +200 to have him in their opening night lineup or at least on their roster. Minnesota is +300 to have him opening night. Portland is +400 to have him opening night. The markets think Simmons will be a Sixer on opening day, even if that doesn’t mean he’ll be in uniform. Into the thick of it we go, with training camp a couple of weeks away.