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Report: Atlanta Hawks an ‘emerging suitor’ for Ben Simmons

What a weird twist if Ben Simmons is traded to the Hawks.

Philadelphia 76ers v Atlanta Hawks - Game Six Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There are now 34 days to go before the Feb. 10 NBA Trade Deadline. So if you own a glossy, paper calendar, you can begin X-ing out the days. There is a very real possibility that the Sixers make some moves. There is a very real possibility Ben Simmons is among those moves. And I suppose, there’s a real possibility he is not traded as well. But we’re approaching the time of year when you need to purchase some type of alert for breaking news on your phone. If you could design an app that causes your phone to bark, or chirp, or play a song whenever Woj or Shams tweets “Sixers” or “Simmons” you’d be richer than an NFT sales rep.

Let’s turn to Marc Stein’s most recent Substack newsletter which was packed with some inside scoops related to the Sixers and their former first overall pick out of Melbourne.

On the seemingly unlikely scenario Simmons suits up for the Sixers again

Per Stein:

“Convincing Simmons to rejoin the team and play as much of the remaining schedule as possible, according to one source familiar with Philadelphia’s thinking, is the club’s “goal No. 1” when it comes to the wayward playmaker.”

This update isn’t earth shattering to hear in that we have heard versions of it before. But the timing of it is important. We have heard for months now that the Sixers want some things that each feel unlikely on paper. The chances they can land Damian Lillard for example is small, but they want it to happen. Simmons finding some resolution in terms of his ongoing mental health struggles and suiting up for the Sixers feels unlikely. But it is clearly something Daryl Morey and company would love to see. Their 2022 title odds would see a big boost if he were suddenly available.

Based on rumors we’ve heard, the Sixers may actually value Simmons as much or more than everyone else in the NBA. A flattering twist of ironic agony for Simmons, who may want to play anywhere else, Stein’s latest does little to dispel this notion.

On the theme of how best to complement Joel Embiid during his finite prime

We talk all of the time around these parts about not wanting the Sixers to blow a season of Joel Embiid’s MVP-caliber prime. That has inevitably led us to discuss scenarios where they might make a hasty trade to help him this year, ultimately placing a ceiling over his entire prime. And we go back and forth with this topic.

Here’s what Stein adds:

“Yet it has likewise been evident for weeks, if not months, that the Sixers don’t subscribe to the notion that they are wasting a year of Joel Embiid’s prime if they hold off on a Simmons deal until the offseason. Philly’s fear is that it could do something much more damaging and squander the opportunity to acquire a true complementary star... for the various headliners it could get immediately, like Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox or Cleveland’s Collin Sexton or the best package long-established interested teams such as Minnesota, Indiana or San Antonio could present.”

With Embiid now signed through at least 2026, possessing an option for 2027, the team appears far more scared of “messing up” the entirety of his Sixers’ contract than they are messing up this current year. If you did not think the Sixers were overly high on De’Aaron Fox, like our Paul Hudrick hinted, it seems you are correct. The same goes for Sexton, out indefinitely with a knee injury.

Morey and company would probably argue it’s better to get this right than it is to get this done quickly. Stein adds that this vibe might change in the weeks approaching the deadline, but that they haven’t changed significantly yet is important intel for fans. We’d be wise to brace for a blockbuster, or for this to continue beyond the deadline.

Hawks ripe for a “consolidation trade”

Back in May, before the playoffs began, we hosted friend of Liberty Ballers, Marty Teller, who said he felt the Hawks were primed for a big “consolidation trade.”

With young players like Cam Reddish, Kevin Huerter, Onyeka Okongwu, and talented vets like John Collins, Clint Capela, and Bogdan Bogdanović there are plenty of ways for the Hawks to go here. It makes a lot of sense they’d try to buy low on the dude who held Trae Young to 5 of 23 from the field in a win-or-die game seven. Simmons on the Hawks would also be meme heaven for those inclined.

The latest from Stein:

“It was suggested to me this week by one league source to keep an eye on Atlanta as an emerging suitor for Philadelphia’s Simmons....The Hawks don’t appear to have an available star on the Lillard/Beal level to make the sort of offer Philadelphia seeks for Simmons, but they have numerous enticing trade pieces to try to bring in other teams and expand the options in a theoretical multi-team trade construction.”

The first 2,600 Ben Simmons trade reports I heard, my mind would instinctively look for who that team might give the Sixers. Had I read this report back in June, I might have thought to myself “well, I could see Daryl Morey being intrigued by the upside of a Reddish, who the Hawks may not be able to afford long-term, or the shooting of a Kevin Huerter or John Collins.” But now I resist those thoughts and say to myself “good, another team who might want Simmons and represent a potential third-team facilitator here. The more of those, the better for Philly.”

Perhaps Morey would look to land an intriguing young player like a Reddish in a larger deal, but he’d likely still covet a star on another team in the same swap.

Because I really do think the Sixers are still holding out hope for one of the less likely outcomes here.

If you asked me to guess today, 34 days from the deadline, what the Sixers are thinking, it’s basically this: we know that it’s not likely we land Damian Lillard, specifically. But if we have a list of 24-30 names, we’d bet with some confidence that at least a few will become obtainable between tomorrow and next summer. Add all of those up, and the chances are not as slim as any one scenario. Throw on top the slim chances Simmons plays for us again, and we feel little pressure to make a hasty trade just to make one. Whether that line of thinking leads to a big trade in the next couple of weeks, probably depends on a pile of factors. For now, you can root for the Sixers and against every other contender. The more disappointment we see league wide, the more likely we see someone on the Sixers secret list become available.