I guess we’re just gonna keep doing this until Ben Simmons actually gets traded, so here’s another.
There has been Kristaps Porziņģis trade smoke for months, and as we know, Ben Simmons has officially been made available by... the Philadelphia 76ers? Himself? His agent? Depends on whom you listen to. In any event, we’ve talked at length about teams in California, one in Portland, and even another in Canada that just played last season in Florida. Last season, we did touch on one of the three teams in Texas: The Houston Rockets, as a reported Simmons for James Harden trade was apparently more than just in the works.
But the other team in Texas, not San Antonio, but Dallas. What about them? Wouldn’t Simmons make sense next to Luka Dončić as much as anyone else seemingly made available? No one is saying this should be a straight-up swap because if you’re Dallas, you’re probably going to need to attach picks to KP, especially since you might get Maxey back as well in this hypothetical.
Regarding contracts, Simmons just turned 25 in July but is entering the first of a five-year deal worth over $177 million, starting at $30.6 million and ending at $40.3 million in 2024-25. Porziņģis is in the third of a five-year deal, earning $31.6 million this season, $33.8 million next, and he has a $36 million player option for 2023-24. Regarding fit, for Philadelphia, whatever picks you could get back will obviously be useful in future team-building for whoever else becomes available. And they should get some sort of draft compensation back, too, even if it wouldn’t be as good today as it would’ve at a different time previously.
On the court, at least, Porziņģis is 7-foot-2, taller than Embiid by one or two inches. Naturally, he seems to want to be a stretch-four, as he was with the New York Knicks, rather than a center, which he’s mostly been in Dallas. He has shot 5.1 threes per game in his career, up to 6.6 in Dallas, and hitting a respectable 36.2 percent. The spacing on the floor would actually be better with him than it’s been with Embiid and Simmons, and by a considerable margin. Some advanced numbers show that KP had his worst defensive season in 2020-21, but generally has been a plus interior defender save for last year. Next to Embiid, they’d have an elite defensive front-line.
The major wildcard is health. Embiid has missed 80 regular-season games and four playoff games over the last four seasons. Since returning from an early 2018 torn ACL at the start of the 2019-20 season, Porziņģis has missed 47 regular season and three playoff games. Still, it positions you for another immediate move, thanks to whatever draft capital comes back while giving Embiid a worthy running mate with size and floor-stretching abilities.
For Dallas, it’s very easy to see a Simmons and Dončić pairing working out if they want it to. Jason Kidd is their head coach (I know, I know) and is probably better suited than anyone else to mold Simmons (on the court) beside an arguable top-five player. You could even slide Simmons into wherever KP would’ve been, giving you a Dončić-Tim Hardaway Jr.-Dorian Finney-Smith-Simmons-Maxi Kleber starting one through five. If Moses Brown proves to be for real, then even better. Spacing? Hardaway Jr., Finney-Smith, and Kleber, along with returning high-end back-up Jalen Brunson, all shot 39 to 41 percent from three last season. Dončić was at 35 percent, for what it’s worth. Simmons should still stretch the floor at any point, but next to Luka, instead of Embiid, the obligation is reduced. It’s seamless on both ends, and frankly, it makes Dallas a better team assuming everyone could get along.