It's mid-August, and Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey is still hard at work trying to find a good return for his flawed three-time All-Star in Ben Simmons. It's a good problem to have... but it's still a problem, and Morey is still looking for a solution.
One potential solution apparently exists in Minneapolis. NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski appeared on ESPN's 'Get Up' morning show Tuesday and came armed with a little new reporting about the Simmons situation, and one team that seems very interested in trading for the 25-year-old:
"Philadelphia has continued to try to see if they can find a deal for Simmons before the start of camp. They have not had success, you know, really getting any traction for the high asking price they're asking for for Ben Simmons. Minnesota is one team that's been persistent with Philadelphia, but they've needed to have, really, third and even fourth teams in those kinds of deals to get back to Philly what it would want.
"I think for the Sixers, if they're going to trade Ben Simmons, they've got to get back players right now who continue on that Joel Embiid timeline of having an MVP-level player in his prime, that you're trying to win championships with, and that's a hard package to get back for Ben Simmons right now. There's a very distinct possibility he's going to have to come back to training camp with them next season.
"Philly's still motivated to find a deal between now and the start of the season."
Interesting! This is not the first time we've heard a connection between the Timberwolves and the Sixers in Simmons talks - there were rumblings from Minnesota back in late June that the Wolves 'badly' wanted to deal for the All-Star - but the fact that they've been "persistent" would, for a lack of solid buzz from other teams, ostensibly put the Wolves near the front of the Simmons trade race right now.
The idea of a Timberwolves deal is particularly interesting because Minnesota general manager Gersson Rosas worked under Morey during Morey's time as the Rockets' general manager and reaching "right-hand man" status with Morey. Where Morey's previous relationship from Houston was reportedly a source of friction in Morey's pursuit of James Harden last season, his relationship with Rosas would likely be something that could help facilitate a deal between the Sixers and Wolves.
Now, what exactly could the Wolves send back to the Sixers in return? That's a good question, and it's probably why the Wolves are looking to rope in another team (or two!) in a deal. They're not a very good team, and if the Sixers are in win-now mode like Woj mentioned, they only have so many assets to send back that would make a deal worth it for the Sixers.
Karl-Anthony Towns is both off the board and a bad fit in Philadelphia. Anthony Edwards is springy and electric, but he's cheap for a few more years and I don't see Minnesota parting with such a young and promising talent to add a flawed star like Simmons. D'Angelo Russell is still just 25 years old and would be a good offensive fit at point guard, but his defensive on/off splits aren't awful - and there's plenty of reason to think that standout year with the Nets was an outlier.
Does a combination of Edwards, Malik Beasley, and future draft picks from the Wolves (and also maybe other teams) do it for Morey and the Sixers? Eh. When you have your sights set on the likes of Damian Lillard, that's a tough sell as a consolation prize.
It could be worse, but it could be way better... and maybe at that point you're better off holding on to Simmons and seeing what materializes by the trade deadline.