When I heard Porzingis suggested as a possible trade target for Simmons, I thought, "No way!". Then, I realized it wouldn't be a straight up deal and decided to delve deeper. The first clue that this could work is that Porzingis is a stretch 4/5. The Sixers would be left needing a point guard. Many are probably way ahead of me by now.
I think a swap of Ben for Porzingis, Jalen Brunson, and Dallas's 2022 1st round pick would be an acceptable trade. Dallas's next available 1st round pick is in 2025. I would take that one too given the opportunity.
First, Porzingis isn't as bad as I had been led to believe. He may be a disappointment in Dallas, but he actually had his best year. His stats were similar to Tobias's on a per appearance basis: 30.1 vs 32.5 minutes, 20.1 vs 19.5 points, 8.9 vs 6.8 rebounds, 1.6 vs 3.5 assists, 15.9 vs 14.9 field goal attempts, 37.6 vs 39.4 3 point %, 54.7 vs 55.6 effective field goal %. Due to higher volume, Porzingis made one more 3 pointer per appearance than did Harris, making him arguably a better fit for Embiid. Harris is older and more expensive. But, Porzingis has a terrible injury history. So, replacing Harris with Porzingis isn't a bad idea, especially if Porzingis can finally stay healthy. Harris could then be traded for someone to play point guard. Also, Niang and Reed are probably ready to pick up any extra minutes.
Jalen Brunson gives the Sixers a back up point guard who is a true point guard, arguably an improvement over Milton.
A first round pick or 2 compensates for Porzingis' injury risk and helps balance the deal.
It has been suggested that Portland could move Covington to his natural SF position, and Powell could be moved to his natural SG position if only Portland could land a PF. If Tobias and Milton were swapped for CJ McCollum, they could do this and the Sixers could obtain someone to play point guard. Even though it is not CJ's natural position, he does average quite a few assists indicating he would be at least adequate as a playmaker. He is certainly more than adequate as a three level scorer, shot creator and 3 point shooter.
The Sixer roster resulting from these two deals:
Center: Embiid, Drummond, Bassey
Power Forward: Porzingis, Niang, Reed
Small Forward: Green, Thybulle, Korkmaz
Shooting Guard: Curry, Joe
Point Guard: CJ McCollum, Maxey, Brunson, Springer
The roster may look short at SG but McCollum, Thybulle and Korkmaz also play the position. The reason for 4 PGs is that I don't think Springer is ready to play this year. Last year, the Sixers play Simmons, Milton, Hill and Maxey at point guard. I think it was obvious that not having a natural PG backing up Simons hurt the Sixers. This year, Maxey will have adjusted to the position better and Brunson will be available.
I think this roster can compete for a title this year. The 3 point shooting and volume will be much more suited for Embiid. McCollum takes 8.9 threes per appearance, Porzingis takes 6 threes, 1.6 more than Harris. That is 10.5 more 3 pointers than last year, more if Curry has learned he needs to shoot more often. Also, McCollum shot 40.2% from 3 last year, has never shot less than 37.5% and shoots 39.8 lifetime. The Sixers could have good volume from three excellent three point shooters at three corners and Porzingis at the other corner. That lineup will rain threes. They may not have the best defense, but the Sixers will definitely have one of the best offenses.
The Sixers send out $70.8 million and take back $64.3 million in salary over these two deals, leaving them right at the cap. Only Drummond and Brunson are one expiring contracts. So, the Sixers could have remarkable continuity and all its benefits next year, especially if they resign Brunson.
I like these deals and can imagine the other parties accepting some version of them that would produce this roster. The Sixers may even end up with a draft pick or two.
So, when people say, "Oh, (such and such a trade) won't work," it is best to look a little closer to see what they actually might be thinking.