Are Sixers talking to Pistons about Simmons trade or not?


It's not often that you get two sourced reports on the same NBA topic in one weekend, but that's what happened over the last few days as buzz emerged about potential trade talks between the Sixers and Pistons centered around (who else) Ben Simmons.

The rumor mill started turning Friday when the Inquirer's Keith Pompey reported that ex-Processer and current Pistons leading scorer Jerami Grant was "under consideration by Sixers brass" in exchange for Simmons.

Here's part of what Pompey reported, citing multiple sources:

"The team has engaged in ongoing discussions with the Detroit Pistons to acquire Grant, another forward, a young player, and a draft pick in exchange for Simmons, league sources said. One source said power forward/center Kelly Olynyk and second-year swingman Saddiq Bey were mentioned as players who could be included in a possible deal. However, a source said the Pistons are unlikely to include Bey, a Villanova product, or Olynyk.

"A person close to the Sixers said the team would want a more high-profile player than Grant in exchange for Simmons. The source added that the team hasn’t spoken to the Pistons lately."

Interesting. Grant is a very good player, much improved since he left Philadelphia and added to his game in a big way. He was one of the most-improved players in the league last season.

But on Saturday, PhillyVoice's Kyle Neubeck threw some water on the Grant-Simmons swap buzz, reporting that he'd heard from sources the talks around Grant were both not recent and not particularly constructive:


"According to sources, those discussions were not just old and presently inactive, they were of little interest to the Sixers. The team's list of players they'd be interested in acquiring for Simmons, recently referred to by Sam Amick in a report for The Athletic, does not include Grant, a source familiar with the situation tells PhillyVoice.


"In the Detroit example, sources say there's not much of a discussion to be had unless the Pistons unexpectedly decided to throw Cade Cunningham, this year's No. 1 overall pick, into the mix."


What to make of these two reports from a pair of plugged-in Sixers beat reporters? My best guess is this: 

  • Both sides likely discussed a Simmons trade at one point, though probably before the season began  
  • The Pistons likely floated Grant as a potential focal point of the deal headed to the Sixers  
  • The Sixers likely told the Pistons that Grant isn't good enough to be the focal point, but Cunningham could sway them  
  • The Pistons likely balked at trading their recent No. 1 overall pick and franchise cornerstone  
  • Both teams went their separate ways, with some residual mutual interest remaining

Totally fair for both sides, frankly. 

The Pistons know that if they want to add star players, they'll need to do it through the draft or through trades, because no stars are going to Detroit in free agency right now.

The Sixers know they can get a better return for a 25-year-old DPOY runner-up and three-time All-Star with four years left on his current contract than a soon-to-be-28-year-old stretch four who wouldn't mesh all that well with Tobias Harris.

So unless the market really, really dries up for Simmons, or the Pistons suddenly have a dramatic change of heart about their current team-building approach, this deal probably won't happen. There's just too big of a gulf between what both teams want.