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Report: Pelicans discussed trading draft picks for 76ers star Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons in Philadelphia 76ers v New Orleans Pelicans

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - APRIL 09: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers is defended by Kira Lewis Jr. #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the second quarter of an NBA game at Smoothie King Center on April 09, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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76ers star Ben Simmons remains available in the NBA’s biggest ongoing trade drama. The Pelicans are reportedly expected to be buyers before the trade deadline.

Do those situations overlap?

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype:

I heard the Pelicans discussed trading future first-round picks and pick swaps with the 76ers for Ben Simmons, league sources told HoopsHype. Brandon Ingram was not involved in the talks, I’m told, at least as of now. With Zion Williamson’s latest injury setback, it’s unclear how that could move the needle for the Pelicans in their efforts to land Simmons.

If he’d actually play for them, Simmons could help the Pelicans make a desperate (likely misguided) attempt to climb from the cellar into the 2022 postseason (and maybe save David Griffin’s job). But Simmons wouldn’t be merely be the dreaded near-sighted acquisition. Just 25 and locked into his contract three-plus more seasons, Simmons would offer a far longer runway.

However, Simmons and Zion Williamson aren’t a clean fit. Williamson could use spacing around him, which the non-shooting Simmons cramps. Accustomed to having the ball in his hands, Simmons could make it more difficult to take advantage of Williamson’s playmaking.

Sometimes, it’s worth betting on talent, and Simmons and Williamson are both highly productive when on the floor. Simmons’ defense would be particularly welcome in New Orleans. Having multiple good passers on the floor is helpful. Maybe the pair would figure it out.

If the Pelicans really believe Simmons and Williamson could thrive together – or just want to make a splash – there are avenues to a deal.

New Orleans has extra first-round picks from the Lakers and Bucks from the Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday trades. The Pelicans also have multiple viable players for salary matching. Brandon Ingram ($29,467,800 salary) would work straight up financially for Simmons ($33,003,936). Jonas Valanciunas ($14 million) is playing excellently and, though he wouldn’t fit on a team with Joel Embiid at center, could be re-routed to a third team that sends assets to Philadelphia. Josh Hart ($12 million) has a very tradeable contract (come Jan. 15) and could help the 76ers on the wing. Devonte’ Graham ($11 million) could add guard depth to a team short on it sans Simmons. Tomas Satoransky’s expiring contract ($10 million) could prove useful.

But Philadelphia wants a star – not a collection of draft picks and role players. Maybe the 76ers would deal Simmons for picks as a value proposition if getting enough in return. But at that point, a trade wouldn’t be worthwhile for New Orleans.