The NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline isn’t too far away now, and with the Sixers seemingly no closer to finding a deal for Ben Simmons yet, they’re going to keep popping up in various trade rumors. While nothing close to groundbreaking has happened, there has at least been an update regarding the Sacramento Kings.
In recent months, it’s been reported that both De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton have been off the table and wouldn’t be offered in a possible Simmons trade. Now, The Athletic’s Sam Amick has reported that even though the Kings would prefer to hold on to Fox and Haliburton, both players would now be available in trade talks if the right deal comes along:
More specifically, sources say Kings owner Vivek Ranadive has continued to make it clear to McNair that he has the green light to do whatever is necessary to meet those goals. And while the Kings would prefer to keep building around De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, their strong appetite to improve means that no player is off the table in terms of potential talks.
Wherever there’s an impact player who can be had, in other words, they’ll be exploring the possibilities. And yes, as you likely wondered, that includes Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons.
So far, there hasn’t been much traction regarding rumors about a potential Sixers-Kings trade. Amick reported in early September that a Simmons trade between Philly and Sacramento was very unlikely given how high the Sixers’ asking price was. In his latest report, Amick again reiterated that the Sixers have continued to ask for “a massive haul” for Simmons. We also heard in November that there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in return for Simmons — if you’re creating a list of the top 30 or so players in the league, Fox and Haliburton aren’t making the cut.
However, Amick emphasized in today’s report that “Sacramento’s interest is definitely there.” They’ve had a rough start to the season at just 16-23 to rank 10th in the West. The pressure to improve and finally get closer to the playoffs makes a floor-raising, All-Star regular season player like Ben Simmons worth considering for such a team. And while Fox and Haliburton’s change in availability doesn’t present the Sixers with the kind of star player they’ve been searching for all this time, it does mean the Kings can at least make a far more intriguing offer. For instance, a return that includes Haliburton and more helpful pieces like Buddy Hield and/or Harrison Barnes would be far more worthy of the Sixers’ interest.
Fox’s production and efficiency has dropped to start this season, but Haliburton in particular has impressed. He’s continued to develop his ability to create off the bounce and had a terrific four-game stretch in mid-December while Fox was out, comfortably handling more responsibility and averaging 23.5 points and 11.3 assists. For the season, Haliburton is putting up 13.3 points, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 42.4 percent from three (on 4.6 attempts) with a 56.9 true shooting percentage. As a quality passer, reliable shooter, smart off-ball defender, and growing creator off the dribble who’s only 21 years old and still on a rookie contract for two more years, Haliburton has a lot of value and potential.
Right now, a Kings offer probably still isn’t enough for the Sixers and Daryl Morey, who has always remained dead set on finding a real star to pair with Joel Embiid. Holding out for the best possible deal is better than rushing — especially as the deadline gets closer, teams re-evaluate where they are, and new players inevitably become available.
If the Kings get more aggressive with their offers and the chance at landing a star never actually arrives, though, maybe a Philly-Sacramento trade becomes a bit more realistic.