We’re just eight days away from the NBA trade Ddeadline, and a Ben Simmons blockbuster may not be imminent. The truth of the matter is if a deal were developing we might not hear a peep until the fax machine starts chugging. But over the last few days many insiders have suggested they do not expect a Simmons deal by the deadline. What may have been unfathomable back in July now seems, dare I say it, likely.
Fans heard Daryl Morey say on the radio recently that a deal was “less likely than likely” yet many still derived hope that a trade was going to happen before the Feb. 10 cut off. Morey also teased a willingness to reduce his asking price from a top-30 player to a top-40 player, and even named the Sacramento Kings specifically as a team he could work with.
In desperate need of our rumor fix, we turn to the thriving American NBA Rumor Exchange for the latest.
Bradley Beal staying put?
We knew Bradley Beal made sense as a Sixers target all season long. He has a standing offer for an extension but hinted he’s not interested in that.
“I’m not gonna make that grand commitment and it doesn’t work. Ultimately you have to be selfish at some point,” he told Chris B. Haynes of Yahoo Sports.
That slated the 2021 All-NBA Third teamer for an epic free agency and got hopes up around the league the former Gator could entertain a change of scenery.
Per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, maybe Sixers fans shouldn’t exactly hold their breath on a Simmons-Beal trade this week:
“Despite Beal’s past flirtations with leaving the Wizards, the All-Star guard has by all accounts signaled plans to re-sign in Washington this summer. The Wizards can offer Beal a five-year, $242 million extension, that’s one year and roughly $60 million more than any rival can present.
The Wizards have similarly given no indications they’ll entertain a Beal trade this month.... Executives near and far are bracing against a perceivably developing trend, where stars like Ben Simmons request a trade shortly after signing a lucrative hometown extension.
Word has since trickled around the league that Beal would welcome playing with Sabonis, although one source with knowledge of the situation maintained Beal has not actively encouraged the Wizards to acquire him.”
There have been conflicting reports about whether or not Beal is eligible for a super max contract. The Washington Post has said Beal is not eligible for one, despite making an All-NBA team with the requisite number of years in the league. But then Wednesday, The Athletic referred to his potential five-year deal as a supermax.
But whatever you want to call it, $242M is a lot of cash. If Beal were set to change teams, he could reduce how much he’s leaving on the table by coaxing the Wiz to trade him now so a new team would have his Bird Rights in July. But that also places risk on the acquiring team who would have to part with considerable assets for what could amount to one devastating “rental” if Beal sought a third team by July.
A “blockbuster” acquisition by the Wiz of Domantas Sabonis would probably be enough to tempt Beal into staying, if somehow Wizards President Tommy Shepard could swing it. But that still seems pretty uninspiring. Joel Embiid eats bigs like Sabonis for breakfast and Beal knows that well.
Fischer also alludes to a grim Simmons-like scenario where Beal could take the Wizards money this July, then simply ask for a trade a bit later. Imagine that? Simmons doesn’t play for the Sixers, while simultaneously revealing for Beal a loophole where he doesn’t have to ask for a trade this season, costing the Sixers their best chance to get Beal.
If Beal’s only goal were to win a championship, he’d be better off with his Pure Sweat training partner Embiid and I’m sure his trainer and friend Drew Hanlen has let him know that. Beal could realistically vault himself from “occasional All-Star status” to “Hall of Fame candidate” by winning a ring in Philadelphia. He probably knows that too.
[Update: shortly after we published this post, John Hollinger co-wrote an article with Rich Hofmann of The Athletic. Hollinger writes:
“Sources have heard no indications the Wizards are seriously considering trading Beal. But there is less unanimity among league sources about what Beal wants to do.
Multiple league sources have indicated Beal remains conflicted.”
There’s more on the Beal front from David Aldridge and Josh Robbins of The Athletic. But also a note about Matisse Thybulle.
“Philadelphia has made no secret that Beal is on its short list of players for whom it would trade disgruntled guard Ben Simmons, who has sat out all season. But the 76ers won’t include an additional piece, such as exciting young guard Tyrese Maxey, along with Simmons in a potential trade for Beal, per league sources. Philly has similarly held firm that it won’t put third-year forward Matisse Thybulle, a terrific wing defender, in a Simmons package.”
The question of whether or not the Sixers would include their resident rising star Tyrese Maxey in a trade for Beal is worth debating. As much as it would cause some Tri-state devastation emotionally, perhaps the chance to resolve a stalemate that figures to march full steam into summer is a chance the Sixers would bite the bullet and take. One imagines they’d try to hold on to Maxey for dear life if these conversations were to really take place, but who knows. If including Maxey got a Beal-deal done, or allowed them to save considerable draft capital they were prepared to include, maybe Morey would pull the trigger.
For what it’s worth Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer also reported recently that the Sixers might be unwilling to part with Thybulle when he wrote “the source added the second-team All-Defensive selection is close to being untouchable.”
Vince Goodwill of Yahoo Sports recently said he thinks Nets’ GM Sean Marks has an offer on the table from Philadelphia of Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey for James Harden.
.@VinceGoodwill on the Simmons/Harden stuff: “I do believe that Sean Marks has on the table a James Harden for Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey—and maybe a combination of filler and picks—deal on the table that he’s just not entertaining."— Bryan Toporek (@btoporek) January 28, 2022
This pod conjecture by Goodwill isn’t exactly as firm as an Adrian Wojnarowski report, but given the Morey-Harden connection, it doesn’t seem entirely farfetched either.
Then we can do a little extrapolation. If the Sixers would be willing to part with Maxey and Simmons in a Harden deal, then Maxey may not actually be untouchable. And if Maxey isn’t untouchable, Matisse Thybulle most certainly isn’t untouchable. No matter how reluctant the Sixers would be to part with either, it makes sense they’d bite the bullet for the right return. I’m not persuaded by these “Matisse is untouchable” rumors one bit and I don’t assume Thybulle, who thought he was headed to Houston this time last year, is either. But we can probably conclude a) it would kill the Sixers to part with Maxey in a Simmons deal returning a star but they might. And b) they would definitely include Thybulle, but it would still sting.
Fischer appeared on the Sixers Daily pod and speculated Simmons would land on a team possessing a star. That would include teams like the Portland Trailblazers, Washington Wizards, or Brooklyn Nets. The latest he reports about Beal’s intent to stay put, plus the latest about Sabonis doesn’t help the Sixers cause. But it all seems fluid. Eight days to go and counting.