Why Ben Simmons, Al Horford being traded to Warriors could make sense


Ever since Kevin Durant departed the Bay for the Brooklyn Nets, Warriors fans have been dreaming about the next big fish they could pair with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

While most of that talk has centered around Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo (not going to happen), the Warriors undoubtedly have had their attention on the Philadelphia 76ers' dysfunction, hoping they choose to break up the Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid duo. The 76ers fired head coach Brett Brown on Monday, but general manager Elton Brand said Tuesday he has no plans to trade either of his stars.

In a column Tuesday, The Athletic's John Hollinger and Anthony Slater discussed the potential of the Warriors, who own the rights to the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, trading for Simmons or Embiid. Hollinger believes the 76ers will hold pat and try and fix the duo with a new coach. He noted the Warriors' chest of draft assets, which includes the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2021 first-round pick, might not intrigue a 76ers team looking to go back into rebuild mode.

Hollinger did float out a hypothetical trade that could work should the 76ers decide the Simmons-Embiid tandem is not a viable long-term partnership. Hollinger suggests a trade in which the Warriors send Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and then draft a player who the 76ers want at No. 2 in exchange for Simmons and Al Horford. In this scenario, the 76ers would tell the Warriors which player to draft at No. 2 and then the teams would wait a month to finalize the trade.


As Hollinger notes, since Wiggins' contract currently is viewed negatively around the NBA, the Warriors would take on Horford, who had an abysmal first season in Philadelphia and wasn't a fit next to Embiid, in order to have each team taking on an unfavorable contract.

But the acquisition of Horford shouldn't scare Warriors fans. Yes, Horford still has three years and $81 million left on his contract and he appeared to fall off a cliff this past season at age 34. But the 76ers didn't utilize Horford in an ideal way. By place him next to Embiid and with no pure shooters around him, Horford's play-making ability was negated. He still is a savvy veteran who is a good passer, solid defender and can knock down open jump shots. Putting Horford on the Warriors' front line with Green and Simmons, who would serve as a wing who can both initiate the offense and play off ball as a slashing threat, could be an intriguing option for the Warriors.

Wiggins has already drawn rave reviews from coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors are excited to see the 2014 No. 1 overall pick play next to Curry, Thompson and Green. So, while it's easy to plug Wiggins in as a trade piece during this long offseason, it sounds like the Warriors, for now, want to see those four work together before they bail on Wiggins.

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The 76ers have to chart a course forward and most assume that will include splitting up Embiid and Simmons at one point or another. That time likely will be next offseason after the new coach has had a year to see if he can make the pairing work.

But if the 76ers decide to blow up the pairing this offseason, expect the Warriors to be one of the first teams to call and try to strike a deal. Landing Simmons would give the Warriors another playmaker who can push the pace on offense and defend at a high level.

Despite his warts, Simmons is worth the price it will take to acquire him and bringing in Horford wouldn't be the worst thing as he could find new life in the Warriors' system alongside Curry, Thompson, Green and Simmons.

There will be plenty more hypothetical trades this offseason, But as the Warriors ponder what to do with their No. 2 overall pick, this is one option that would be worth exploring should the 76ers choose to shake things up.