Amid a catastrophic start to the season for the Trail Blazers — general manager Neil Olshey fired for violating the team’s code of conduct, just 11 wins in 24 games, sharp criticisms by new head coach Chauncey Billups of the players' effort — it’s been natural to wonder how Portland superstar Damian Lillard felt about all the messiness.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick provided insight into that matter with a story Monday morning especially relevant to the Sixers.
“Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations,” Charania and Amick reported. “But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons.”
What might a Simmons trade to the Blazers (in which Lillard stays put) look like?
Portland “discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia,” The Athletic reported. “The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected.”
McCollum is 30 years old, has never made an All-Star Game, and will be owed approximately $69 million over the 2022-23 and 2023-24 seasons, per Spotrac. He’d be an intriguing fit in Philadelphia, though, with his ability to score and shoot, handle backup point guard duties, take care of the ball, and be a legitimate offensive threat next to Joel Embiid. Over the past six-plus seasons, he’s averaged 21.8 points and shot 39.8 percent from three-point range.
Simmons told the Sixers in October he’s not mentally ready to play and, after a summer trade request, hasn’t appeared in a game this season. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has said the team won’t deal Simmons for role players.
“If we can trade Ben Simmons for a difference maker, we will do it,” Morey said in an Oct. 21 interview on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli Show. “I think that’s best for everyone in this situation.”
The Athletic reported it’s presently “unclear if there’s a deal to be had with the 76ers (and Blazers).” Portland promoted Joe Cronin from director of player personnel to interim GM in the wake of Olshey’s firing.