Ben Simmons' rift with the Philadelphia 76ers continues to manifest, but with a reported massive asking price, is it worth it for the Warriors to pursue a trade for the All-Star?
Philadelphia and renowned president of basketball operations Daryl Morey reportedly are seeking as many as four first-round draft picks along with an All-Star caliber player. For reference, Anthony Davis at age 26 was traded from New Orleans to the Los Angeles Lakers for a package that included three first-round draft picks and a future first-round pick swap, two recent top-five draft picks in Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, and 24-year-old Josh Hart.
Davis had been named All-NBA First Team three times and was a six-time All-Star before the trade to LA. Simmons has one All-NBA Third Team honor under his belt and is a three-time All-Star after his fourth season in Philadelphia (Davis had played seven seasons for the Pelicans before being traded).
The Lakers went all in to pair Davis with LeBron James in LA, and it led to a championship in the duo's first full season together.
The Warriors are in a similar position of wanting to maximize the latter years of a superstar's prime in Steph Curry, and Simmons would bring a high level of defense and court vision to the organization.
KRON 4's Jason Dumas reported Thursday citing league sources that Simmons had cut off all ties with the 76ers organization and was directing all communication through his agent, Rich Paul. Dumas added that sources indicate Simmons would welcome being moved to the Warriors.
The Warriors potentially could save a few future first-round picks if it packaged one of, or both of its selections from this year's NBA draft, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. Both nearly were universally considered to be top-10 players in this year's class, and would be much more valuable than future picks that likely would end up in the mid-to-late 20s of the first round.
The only player the Warriors likely would be willing to give up that is in the realm of being an All-Star is Andrew Wiggins, who would have to be included solely to make Simmons' lofty $33 million cap figure fit with the league's largest payroll.
So let's say, hypothetically, a package of Wiggins, Kuminga, Moody and two future first-rounders now is what Morey is asking for from the Warriors. Is that worth it for the talents of Simmons?
The short answer is absolutely not. The Warriors have publicly continued to emphasize that they see a promising future for their two newest first-round picks, and selling off so much of that future doesn’t sound like what CEO Joe Lacob and general manager Bob Myers want to do.
The Warriors reportedly already rejected an offer that included the above five assets in addition to 2020 No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman for Simmons. Simply taking Wiseman off the table doesn't make the Warriors any more likely to pull the trigger on a trade.
From a Philadelphia perspective, this also wouldn’t make much sense. They also are feeling the pressure of needing to win now after so many years of embracing the process. Joel Embiid was the MVP runner-up last season and might have won the award if he had played a full season.
Other teams like the Boston Celtics might be more willing to offer an All-Star caliber player in a trade package.
We could see the 76ers’ asking price dwindle as the offseason drags on, if teams continue to be unwilling to meet that significant haul. The Athletic’s John Hollinger, a former front office executive with the Memphis Grizzlies, made an interesting point about Morey in his most recent free agency column.
“First, they were active as hell: They called about trades more than any other team, by a mile. But second, they always started with a sky-high asking price, making borderline absurd offers and then working their way back to something reasonable. They often got there; Houston, in Morey’s tenure, also completed more trades than any other team, so these calls weren’t just hot air from the ridiculous guy in your fantasy league,” Hollinger wrote referencing Morey’s days as the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
So while the initial price is sky-high, it could and likely will come down as league-wide interest tapers off. The 76ers want to maintain their place among the top teams in the Eastern Conference, and aren’t going to trade their All-Star point guard for a package that pushes them further from that mission.
Rich Paul being Simmons’ agent adds intrigue to these discussions with teams. Moody also is represented by the high-powered agent and Klutch Sports, as is Warriors star Draymond Green. If Paul and Moody feel the No. 14 pick might be better served in Philadelphia than with the Warriors, perhaps he could serve as the centerpiece of a trade package along with Wiggins and likely another first-round pick.
To be clear, there is no reporting to indicate that Paul and Moody feel that way, but it is a possibility. But Davis also was represented by Paul and Klutch Sports, and the agency remains arguably the most influential power brokers in the league's history.
One note on the Warriors potentially trading Kuminga and/or Moody: draft picks aren't eligible to be traded once they sign their contracts for 30 days. Both Kuminga and Moody signed their contracts on Aug. 5, making them officially untradeable until Saturday, Sept. 4.
If Simmons truly is as frustrated with the 76ers as reports indicate, his return to Philadelphia next season seems increasingly unlikely. However, with four years of team control remaining on his contract, it’s understandable that Morey and the Philly front office would be asking for a monster return for Simmons’ services. That lengthy contract also limits Simmons' leverage, as Dumas included in his report.
Currently, the Warriors seem like an unlikely trade partner for Simmons specifically. In the fast-paced world of NBA rumors and reports, however, things can change quickly.
Until Simmons lands elsewhere or publicly mends fences with the 76ers, expect his name to be mentioned alongside the Warriors plenty.