We’re now less than one month away from the NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline, which means we might be — we might be, he emphasizes, as he knocks on every oak tree lining the Delaware Valley — less than one month away from the feeling of sweet, sweet, release borne only from the once-and-for-all trade of Ben Simmons to another professional basketball team.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has been prudent and patient to a maddening degree, for some, threatening in the media at times to simply hold an inactive Simmons on the roster for the remainder of his contract should he not recoup what he deems fair value. In recent weeks, it’s begun to look like Morey’s patience could be rewarded at the deadline. Unstable situations aplenty have emerged throughout the league, and with player movement en vogue, it seems as though Morey should have a number of options from which to choose when deciding where to send Simmons this February.
Last week, The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that Haliburton was no longer off the table in trade talks for Simmons.
This week, The Athletic’s Shams Charania theorized that Collins — who recently voiced some displeasure with his role for the sputtering Hawks — could be the centerpiece of a trade between Atlanta and Philly for Simmons, as the Hawks have lately butted into the Simmons sweepstakes.
Haliburton and Collins are vastly different players in both style and position, of course, so they make for an interesting philosophical debate when discussing what you want out a Simmons trade if you’re a Sixers fan.
Here’s a side-by-side comparison between the two players, this season:
They have a few similarities — they’re both very good outside shooters, both very young players with more upside to unlock, both good theoretical fits with Joel Embiid — but let’s dive into the areas where they differ.
Haliburton is a combo guard, adept at playing both on and off the ball. This is a trait the Sixers ought to love, as it should make him a hand-in-glove fit in lineups with Embiid and also with Tyrese Maxey, a player the team seems to (and should) love. Haliburton has added an off-the-dribble three to his game this year, which he’s converting at above 40 percent, which would bring a sorely needed component to the Sixers’ at times stodgy half court offense. (If there’s one thing thing Paul Hollywood and I have in common, it’s that we both hate things that are stodgy.) He’s a willing, if inconsistent defender, a good passer, and a hard worker. He has tons of room to grow into an All Star, and is highly thought of around the league. Bradley Beal is available this summer, you say? Haliburton and picks is one heck of an enticing package for a rebuilding Washington team, should that play out.
The worry might be that Haliburton is just a bit young. At 21, he may not be prepared to be a key cog on the championship contender the Sixers are trying to build as soon as yesterday. Since he’s on his rookie deal, the Kings would need to include a player like Harrison Barnes or Buddy Hield in the deal to make the money work. Both of those guys wouldn’t merely be throw-ins — they’d help the Sixers immensely. Score another point for the Haliburton deal.
As for Collins, the Sixers saw firsthand the impact the power forward can have on a playoff series when Atlanta shocked Philly in seven games in the second round last spring. He hit open threes and overpowered the Sixers with his energy and athleticism on the boards throughout the series.
On one hand, I absolutely love Collins’ theoretical fit next to Embiid. Collins would be able to to continue nailing open threes, punish teams sleeping on him in the dunker spot, play backup center, run some devastating pick-and-roll with Maxey — the list goes on. His energy also extends to the defensive end, where he’s an effective weakside rim protector. My concern is twofold: what, then, becomes of Tobias Harris and his maximum-level contract? And should the Sixers’ return for Simmons come in the form of a post player?
Harris simply cannot play full time small forward. He can’t guard small forwards (he can barely guard most fours), and he can’t be guarded by small forwards. You could stagger Collins and Harris most of the time, but at the ends of games, unless Doc Rivers would be willing to bench Harris, I think we’d be in for some clunkiness. Of course, word this week states that the Sixers are sniffing around trades that would ship out Simmons with Harris, so maybe we’ll just grab Haliburton and Collins together!
In addition to Collins, Charania opined that Hawks swingman Cam Reddish could be available. The Norristown native is a pure scorer but raw and inconsistent. The fear in terms of Reddish is that he’s about to be a restricted free agent, and I’m not sure how you decide what to pay him. He’s certainly worth a flier.
With the Atlanta deal, I just simply worry that the Sixers would still be short some perimeter creation after this trade, and this might be betting a touch too heavily on Maxey’s absolute highest ceiling. I would just need to know that we could ship Harris elsewhere to feel totally bullish about this return.
So at the end of the day, I’d side pretty heavily with the Haliburton + Hield or Barnes package. I think that one gives you the best blend of star upside, versatility, future flexibility, with players who can help you win right now. But if I was Daryl Morey I would be interested in both offers, and I’d do my best to leverage them against one another all the way up until the Feb. 10, 3 p.m. deadline bell rings to get the best deal possible.