Where should Ben Simmons ultimately land?

Where should Ben Simmons ultimately land?

Looking at most likely destinations for Sixers’ controversial star — and telling you why they should or shouldn't make the move

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Is it goodbye?
Is it goodbye?
Illustration: Getty Images

He has to get traded, doesn’t he?

We keep hearing insiders suggest it’s only a matter of time Ben Simmons is dealt, reports about the lack of contact between the All-Star and his current team, and the general wave of speculation suggesting he’ll be gone by training camp.

We’ve heard the rumors, including the teams he may end up on, and we’ve even discussed that as recently as around NBA Draft time. And, of course, none of those guys many expected to be dealt have been traded yet. Not one. So let’s continue to do so while no formal decisions have been made yet. Three teams who should most consider risking it all for one of basketball’s distinct enigmas.

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The Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers

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The pro-Simmons case: If you’re a Blazers fan, you’d obviously prefer it not be centered around a Damian Lillard / Ben Simmons swap. You’d rather it be CJ McCollum, though that would mean sacrificing whatever decent draft capital you have, as opposed to the possibility of getting back something in addition to Simmons in exchange for Lillard. But ultimately, if you can partner Lillard and Simmons, hoping they could be a majority facsimile of Steph Curry and Draymond Green, that’s something that probably makes you better, as good as McCollum is. Simmons, as disappointing as his lack of offensive evolution has been, he’s still one of the very best defenders on the planet, and Lillard has never had a teammate that could do what he does there. They’d mesh together quite well on the court in an ideal world.

For Philadelphia, having McCollum to complement Joel Embiid and under Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey, he could play his best basketball yet, too. Remember, Simmons won’t be there, so the spacing improves by default. McCollum will also be without Lillard, and effectively your primary ball-handler since Tobias Harris becomes your second-best perimeter scorer. Embiid will inevitably miss some games, and McCollum might have a pathway to a career year as a result due to playing off him and also stepping up in his likely absences.

The anti-Simmons case: It seems like Portland wants to run this back, for now, with Lillard and McCollum still leading the way, in hopes everything around them improves. Though, to be honest, outside of a new head coach in Chauncey Billups, they’re mostly running it back. The real anti-Simmons case for them is just not believing he’s repairable, and or the Sixers could be asking for too much, which seems to be the case. If so, that could be reasonable, the rest of us would just like to know what the alternative is because Lillard is more vocal now than ever, and it’s not to say the answer is Simmons, but the answer is someone not currently in Portland.

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The Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors

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The pro-Simmons case: On the court? It’s obvious that this could work for Golden State. Now, for Philadelphia, the Warriors would give you more back in a trade compared to Portland. (This might also force Lillard out of Portland in a weird twist.) It was surprising to see them draft and actually keep their two lottery picks this year, which became Jonathan Kuminga at No. 7 and Moses Moody at No. 14, two of the draft’s most intriguing prospects. As of now, there aren’t plans for a trade, but that could always change. Recently signed draft picks can’t be traded for 30 days. Kuminga and Moody were both signed on August 4, and training camp doesn’t open until September 28, so there’s plenty of time to construct a deal involving the rookies before then if they wanted to. Aside from that, the Warriors would also need Andrew Wiggins’ contract to help make the numbers work, along with future draft picks. Sure, James Wiseman, but why? The 76ers have Embiid.

The anti-Simmons case: If you’re Philadelphia, do you want to deal Simmons for Wiggins, a couple of rookies, and some future picks? To be honest, if they rejected that alleged (and beautiful) aforelinked package of Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and the No. 4 pick in this past year’s draft, then who knows what Philly wants. Who is going to offer them a better package than that!? Alas, the anti-Simmons case for Golden State is not the possible redundancy with Green, because the two could actually play together, and sure, he’d help the spacing with Steph Curry and a returning Klay Thompson, but Philadelphia is going to probably want much more than they’re willing to offer. For that, the Warriors could use the Kuminga-Moody led package elsewhere. Some would say Bradley Beal, but that’s unlikely at this point. However, to be fair, shit could hit the fan at any point in this league.

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The Philadelphia 76ers! 

The Philadelphia 76ers! 

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The pro-Simmons case: At this point, there is none.

The anti-Simmons case: Rewatch the 2021 playoffs. Rewatch the press conferences from Embiid and Rivers after the game. Rewatch the last four years of basketball in Philadelphia. It’s just not going to work. Embiid is an MVP candidate. Simmons might have a path to being one himself; it just isn’t in Philadelphia. This doesn’t need a grand explanation. We all know what has to be done. And we all expect it to be a matter of time before the 76ers do it. For both sides. 

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