The Summer of Ben Simmons has seen at least a half-dozen teams seriously linked to the enigmatic All-Star in trade buzz, and one of the most intriguing squads for Sixers fans has long been the Portland Trailblazers.
The goal in a deal with Portland has always been to get Damian Lillard to Philadelphia, but it seems that's not happening - right now, at least - so what else could the Blazers send out in order to get Simmons to the Northwest?
Apparently, some pretty solid stuff.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith reported on "First Take" on Wednesday morning that the most recent Blazers and Sixers trade talks have centered around shooting guard C.J. McCollum, along with other pieces:
"According to my sources, they're talking about C.J. McCollum, they're talking about Robert Covington, they're talking about a couple first-round picks.
"The 76ers have not been willing to bite."
Look... that's not Damian Lillard, but that is not bad at all.
A straight-up swap of Simmons for McCollum should obviously have been a non-starter for the Sixers, but the idea of adding a shooting guard who can get his own offense at the drop of a hat, a three-and-D expert (who just happens to be a fan favorite Process Sixer), and draft capital?
Frankly, if I'm Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, that deal is pretty close to the top of the list right now - and I'm thinking about taking it.
The question is how the Sixers match salaries with Portland in this deal. The ESPN Trade Machine says the Sixers need to send $2,484,749 of extra salary back to Portland in order for the deal to comply with NBA rules. Two of Paul Reed, Isaiah Joe, and Shake Milton would get it done. Giving up young, intriguing, cost-controlled roster guys like those fellas would be a bit of a bummer to hardcore Sixers fans - but the goal is to win now. Sometimes you need to make concessions.
If Tyrese Maxey really is the future at point guard, which many people think he can be, then your starting lineup can look like this come next month's season opener against the Pelicans:
- PG: Tyrese Maxey
- SG: C.J. McCollum
- SF: Robert Covington
- PF: Tobias Harris
- C: Joel Embiid
Is it as spicy as the Damian Lillard-Joel Embiid pick-and-roll fever dreams we were hoping for? No, it's not.
But that's a very, very good starting five. And with guys like Seth Curry, Danny Green, and Furkan Korkmaz able to come off the bench, the depth turns into a serious advantage.
I won't be surprised if Morey decides to stand pat and hope he can still finagle one of Lillard or Bradley Beal in-season, but if this is the deal he decides to go with, it wouldn't be the worst idea.