After the Sixers stumbled out of the playoffs over the weekend, speculation is running rampant about the future of All-Star Ben Simmons. Philly has tried to make it work with him and Joel Embiid, only to continue to run into a wall in the postseason.
If Simmons is ultimately dealt, here are six teams would fit as trade partners...
Like the Sixers, the Blazers' disappointing playoff exit suggests an offseason with potential for major changes, and likely more than just a new head coach. Whether they are willing to trade Damian Lillard or instead ship out C.J. McCollum and others to get Lillard some help, the Sixers could make a great offer with Simmons.
A Simmons-plus-pieces offer for Lillard would make some sense for both sides. Lillard would form an instant title contender, if not favorite, with Embiid in Philly, while Simmons would get a fresh start and a franchise to make his own. Portland would have a decent supporting cast of shooters to surround him with. If the Blazers were somehow able to get Simmons without trading Lillard, those two wouldn't be a perfect fit, but they would give the Blazers two stars for a new coach to make it work with.
This may be the most logical and obvious one on the list. The Bulls have All-Star guard Zach LaVine with only one year left on his contract. He's of similar makeup to Simmons in terms of age and talent, and he would complement Embiid well if he joined forces with him. The Bulls, meanwhile, haven't been able to win anything of consequence with LaVine, as good as he is, and could use a shakeup in general.
To make the money work, Chicago could throw in Tomas Satoransky to give Philly another solid and versatile guard. LaVine could then grow with Embiid as a true inside-outside star combo. He's become one of the most efficient volume scorers in the league, and they wouldn't have to worry about him taking shots in the fourth quarter. He ranked top-7 this season both in fourth-quarter points and field goal attempts. Simmons could then grow with Coby White, Patrick Williams and the rest of the Bulls' young core.
Sacramento hasn't made the playoffs since the 2005-06 season, back when they still had guys like Peja Stojakovic, Mike Bibby and Bonzi Wells. At 15 years, they have the longest playoff drought in the NBA and are tied for the longest in league history. This year happened to see the second and third teams on that list, the Suns and Knicks, break out of their playoff slumps. In order to join them, the Kings may need to try something drastic, as essentially tanking for a decade-and-a-half has not worked.
The Kings, though, have some pieces, highlighted by De'Aaron Fox. He's a primary ball handler, like Simmons, and is just one year younger. The Kings also have a very good young guard in Tyrese Haliburton behind Fox. In a Fox-Simmons deal, the Sixers would bet on Fox's growth alongside Embiid and Tobias Harris, while the Kings would bank on Simmons becoming a true centerpiece franchise player, the likes of which they haven't had in a long time.
This would be a wild card, for sure. The Nuggets already very good and, with Jamal Murray, they are legitimate title contenders. Even without Murray, they proved they could keep things afloat this season thanks to the brilliance of Nikola Jokic and the emergence of Michael Porter Jr. But Murray tore his ACL in April, which means he will likely miss most of next season. Without Murray, can they keep things together all season, well enough to not waste a year of Jokic's prime?
If they don't think they can, maybe it's time to strike a deal for someone like Simmons. Porter Jr. would probably be the key here, as he's good enough to get any team's attention in a potential trade. Maybe the deal goes like Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and JaMychal Green for Simmons. The Sixers would take a chance on Porter becoming a legitimate star, plus have Gordon to deepen their rotation. The Nuggets, on the other hand, would put Simmons alongside Jokic, hoping for regular season success like Simmons has had with Embiid. Then, Murray could return not long before the playoffs and form a true big three to go chase a title.
The Pacers are an interesting team in any trade hypothetical because they have a collection of good players on manageable contracts. They might lead the league in guys who are just below All-Star level on team-friendly deals. Assuming Indiana would want to keep two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers could still entice Philly by letting them pick two from the group of Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Myles Turner and T.J. Warren.
While none of those players on their own would constitute a star on Simmons' level, getting two of them would be a more than solid return. Say they got LeVert and Turner. LeVert would give them a play-maker on the perimeter, while Turner would further fortify their defense. He may be an awkward fit with Embiid, but a good coach could make it work.
The Wizards are on here just because they are second in PointsBet's odds. That's interesting because the fit is fairly questionable if you consider all the factors at play. If Philly wants to trade Simmons for another star, the Wizards technically have two of them but don't want to part with Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook is both older and more expensive than Simmons, by eight years and $12.6 million.
And if the Wizards did for some reason decide to trade Beal for Simmons, they would be left with two guys who would be a difficult fit because of their shooting in Simmons and Westbrook. Maybe there's a way it makes sense in a three-team deal for Simmons to land in Washington, but right now it doesn't exactly compute.