With the NBA draft a day away, it feels like the conversation is more about the league's entrenched superstars than its next generation, but that's where we are these days.
And right now the conversations all begin with Sixers star Ben Simmons: will he stay? Will he go? And if he goes, where will he end up?
We've heard a whole host of teams as reportedly interested in Simmons - he is, after all, a good basketball player - including Cleveland, Sacramento, Indiana, Minnesota, and Toronto, among others.
But The Athletic's Sam Amick reported in a new story Wednesday morning that he's heard from a source close to the situation that a new and unexpected team is also in the fray:
"While Portland’s Damian Lillard and Washington’s Bradley Beal both appear to be in their respective holding patterns when it comes to possibly requesting a trade, it’s looking increasingly likely that Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons will be on the move. One source close to the situation handicapped Miami, Toronto and Washington as the most likely landing spots. The Wizards scenario, of course, would only take place if Beal wound up deciding that it was time for a new chapter outside of the nation’s capital. The moving parts, as you can see, are sometimes part of the same puzzle."
Miami? As in the Miami... Heat?! What?!?
That's a truly baffling entry into the Simmons sweepstakes. It's been widely rumored that Simmons and Heat star Jimmy Butler didn't get along in Philadelphia, which was at least one small part of Butler opting to sign with the Heat instead of returning to the Sixers after the 2018-19 season.
Unless the Heat are planning on sending Butler back to the Sixers in a Simmons deal - something I would be opposed to in almost every way imaginable - I don't understand what Miami's brass is thinking. From a basketball standpoint, does Simmons fit? Sure. He fits their hard-nosed defense, he fits in that he'd be able to distribute the ball to a bunch of fascinating weapons all over the floor, etc. That all makes sense. But from a team-building standpoint, Simmons doesn't put the Heat any closer to a title - and unless Butler is headed out, he clashes in a big way with their culture leader.
The smoke around Toronto continues to grow, meanwhile, which shouldn't be too surprising. Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri likely sees a path to recouping a star via a Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade because of the Sixers' reported interest in the veteran point guard. A number of reported Sixers offers to Toronto have swirled on social media in the last couple days, though none from reporters of great repute, so it's hard to know what's true and what's fiction. It seems, however, that Toronto's interest is at least concrete - and maybe even growing.
If Butler is not part of a prospective Simmons return, what can Miami offer? The Heat have reportedly been reluctant to part with young guard Tyler Herro, though Dan Le Batard reported on his podcast earlier this week that a source close to the Miami Heat's decision making claimed they only shot down one proposed Herro trade last year. Would the Sixers want Herro? He's a young and intriguing offensive talent, albeit one with consistency issues - but he would fit in their offense and provide on-ball creation, something they're lacking.
The non-Butler package would likely be centered around Herro, maybe another player or two - does Kendrick Nunn excite anyone? - and future draft picks. That's not enough, for me.
This is all very strange, and unexpected. I don't see the Heat as a primary contender in the Simmons sweepstakes, but stranger things have happened, so keep your eyes open.