The quasi-target date of Dec. 15 for possible movement on the Ben Simmons trade front has come and gone, and nothing seems to have changed in the Sixers' pursuit for a deal.
We might be in for a long winter of more buzz, speculation, and general angst among fans over which front office will finally step up and lift this burden off Sixers fans' shoulders.
But if one thing is clear, it's that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is working the phones behind the scenes pretty actively. Rumors have been popping up far more frequently in the past week or so, and on a new episode of The Hoop Collective podcast on Friday, ESPN NBA insider Brian Windhorst gave us some very intriguing info about the future of a Simmons deal.
Let's go to Windy's latest extensive reporting for some insight into what, for now, it sounds like a Simmons trade will look like:
"There've been a number of rumors that've gone around the league in the last few weeks about Ben Simmons trades involving the Morey quadrangular. The Morey quadrangular would be the Philadelphia 76ers, Daryl Morey, general manager, president, whatever his title is; Minnesota Timberwolves, who are run now by Sachin Gupta, who worked for Daryl Morey; the Kings, who are run by Monte McNair, who worked for Daryl Morey; and the Rockets, who are run by Rafael Stone - while there's some scar tissue there - who worked for Daryl Morey.
"I am not going to tell you some of these preposterous scenarios that have been floated to me, but let's just say there's been a lot of discussion.
"As you look at it, the Timberwolves really would like to get Ben Simmons. That is not a secret, that is not new [...] The Kings are really struggling and really want to be competitive, they've already fired Luke Walton, and they have surplus perimeter players. It's not news that Buddy Hield is available.
"And then of course you've got the Rockets [...] Eric Gordon is playing better.
"I've had executives tell me that when Ben Simmons is traded, it will include one or more of the quadrangular. Not necessarily that that's where Ben Simmons would go, but that they would be involved in the trade. Because a Ben Simmons trade is likely to wind up being a multi-team deal."
So it sounds like Morey is talking a lot to his buddies, all of whom are in position to try and make moves before the Feb. 10 trade deadline. That's pretty helpful! And it should be encouraging to Sixers fans that front offices around the league are buzzing about Morey's talks. He's not just sitting back and waiting things out; he's trying to get this thing done. It's appreciated.
I think at this point the concept of a three-team deal should be familiar territory for those who traffic in Simmons rumors. The idea of sending out a player with that much money and time on his contract is never easy, especially when someone like Morey is looking for a very particular kind of return: a Top 25 player.
Windhorst bringing up Eric Gordon's recent play isn't surprising; it felt at one point like the Sixers were involved in Gordon discussions at every single trade deadline since the dawn of time. Gordon, who turns 33 in a week, is earning $18 million this year and $19 million next year while averaging 14.7 points per game and shooting a gaudy 43.4% from deep.
Does Gordon fit into the Top 25-type return that Morey wants? Probably not, unless he's able to get a young guy with a high ceiling who hasn't signed a big extension yet. But his salary is helpful in moving Simmons no matter what, and his skillset will be attractive to any team even remotely in contention.
There are a lot of intriguing players on these teams - De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton in Sacramento; Anthony Edwards, Malik Beasley, and D'Angelo Russell on the Timberwolves; Gordon and Jalen Green on the Rockets - who I'd imagine Morey will be thinking about, either in a return to the Sixers or in a multi-team move.
No matter what happens, the Simmons trade is going to be an absolute megabomb and we're all going to need to break out the calculators when it goes down.