Five Possible Trade Destinations for the Disgruntled Star
During the 2021 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Philadelphia 76ers lost a close game seven to the Atlanta Hawks. This likely marked the end of “The Process”, a decade long venture by the 76ers to rise back to the top of the NBA.
Beginning in 2013, former 76ers GM Sam Hinkie began what he called “The Process”, an attempt to tank (lose a lot of games on purpose) to earn high draft picks and build the team up through the draft. This started well, with the 76ers having a 19-63 record in the 2013-2014 season, and earning the number 3 pick in the draft and selecting Joel Embiid. Then, they went on to have first round picks in the top 3 for the next 3 years, supposedly building a core of very talented players.
Part of “The Process” was Ben Simmons, a 25 year old 6 ’11’’ point guard from Australia who was selected first overall in the 2016 Draft. He was picked by the 76ers, who also had the first pick in the next year’s draft. Simmons was supposed to be one of the main pieces in a core of very high draft picks, which the 76ers got from tanking for several years.
In the 2021 playoffs, the 76ers were in a win-or-go-home game 7, and needed their stars to step up and keep them in the playoffs. Simmons did not play well, scoring only five points in that crucial game 7, and made the decision to pass up a dunk that would have tied the game.
After this loss, Simmons made it clear that he would no longer be playing with the 76ers, and expected them to trade him as soon as possible. Simmons even told the 76ers that he would not be reporting to training camp, which has already started, and declined to meet with teammates about returning to the team.
This forces the 76ers to trade him, because they are still paying him to sit out, when they could have another valuable player. Although, with the 76ers main trade targets currently not available, they have not been able to complete a trade.
Using the ESPN trade machine, I created five trade possibilities for Ben Simmons, and here are the best ones (In no particular order):
The Minnesota Timberwolves ended their season 23-49, in need of a severe change to build a winning culture. In this trade, the Timberwolves get their game-changing piece and the 76ers receive three players who will help build a strong core for this season. Trading for Simmons goes with the Timberwolves young core, and this should help catapult them into the playoffs.The last time the Timberwolves traded for a star in Jimmy Butler, it took them to their first playoffs in 14 years, and this could create the same effect.
The Warriors won three championships in four years during the 2010s, but with their core injured or traded, they have not been able to make a finals run since Kevin Durant’s departure. Simmons would be a perfect fit on the Warriors, as he would be surrounded by Curry and Thompson, two of the best shooters ever. The 76ers would also benefit from getting Andrew Wiggins, who had a career year this past year and will continue to develop. Wiggins is a young player, and learning from a very experienced coach like Doc Rivers will help him mature into a strong veteran player.
The Mavericks have one of the best players in all of basketball with Luka Doncic, but they are in desperate need of more help to surround him. Simmons would work well with high level scorers like Doncic and Tim Hardaway Jr. The 76ers also are in need of a change, and Kristaps Porzingis would fit well with the 76ers system. Porzingis is a 7’3” sharpshooter from Latvia, and he would spread the floor, which is the opposite of what Simmons had been doing. Porzingis used to be a star for the New York Knicks, but tore his ACL and forced his way out of New York. Ever since, he has not been nearly as mobile, which is a huge problem for someone of his size. Although, with the new opportunity in Philadelphia, he might be able to return to his star form.
The Chicago Bulls missed the playoffs last year, but they are building a new core of Lonzo Ball, DeMar Derozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic. Packaging these young players for Simmons would expedite the process of the Bull’s rebuild. This would also help the 76ers build a younger core, with White and Williams having very high ceilings as young players. On the other hand, Simmons may not fit well with the Bull’s core, with other players like Ball and Derozan who also need the ball in their hands to succeed.
In this trade, the 76ers get one of their main trade targets, Damian Lillard, and the Wizards get an all-star in CJ McCollum and an additional year of club control. In the past, both the Wizards and Blazers have not wanted to trade their stars, but with this package they should agree. The Blazers receive a huge package with a new core of Beal and Simmons, which should help them make a deeper run into the playoffs. Additionally, if the Wizards received one or two first round picks, this trade would be almost perfect for all sides.