The past 24 couple days have been brutal for the Philadelphia 76ers, coach Doc Rivers and Ben Simmons. The Sixers were -300 betting online favorites to beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals but came up short thanks in large part to Simmons, who scored just five points and averaged just 6.3 in the final three games.
To put it bluntly: Philadelphia is done with Simmons. The NBA odds have it lined as -300, or a 75 percent implied probability, that Simmons will be with a different franchise by the time next season starts.
But what is one team’s trash is another team’s treasure. Several teams, including contenders, would be more than happy to acquire Simmons. Let’s look at the four most ideal trades for both parties.
Where Could Simmons Go?
San Antonio Spurs
This is one of the best matches for both Simmons and a franchise. The San Antonio Spurs and Simmons are given the benefit of a fresh start here. For the first time in Simmons’ career, not much will be expected of him as he plays for a team that is supposed to be bad. No playoffs.
The Spurs also have plenty of pieces they can part with to acquire Simmons including guards Dejounte Murray and Devin Vassell and/or Lonnie Walker IV. By acquiring Simmons, the Spurs can look to build around him and create a system where he is the man.
The downside to this is that Simmons may just not be a franchise player. Sure, there will be less pressure on him when the team is bad. But in a few years, when the team is good enough to contend, he will have to deliver again. And so far, he’s done quite poorly at that.
Another team looking to shake things up are the Utah Jazz. Like the Sixers, the Jazz were a top-seeded team that fell awfully short after blowing a 25-point lead in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Utah got lit up alternately by the likes of Paul George and Reggie Jackson. They could have used Simmons’ versatility to guard either one.
But unlike the Spurs, the Jazz’s salary situation is a bit stuffed. They will need to trade several of their players on rotation such as Bojan Bodganovic or Joe Ingles plus guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Royce O’Neale. Either way, they will sacrifice a lot of their depth.
Still, envisioning a defensive core of Simmons, center Rudy Gobert and point guard Mike Conley should make even the best offenses in the NBA notice.
Portland Trail Blazers
The fan favorite trade destination for Simmons is Portland. It sounds too obvious sometimes: Portland trades C.J. McCollum for Simmons, straight up. Assuming both teams agree to it, and that is a massive if, this patches up their glaring problems immediately.
“[The 76ers should] try to get yourself somebody like CJ McCollum. Bring him to Philly, send Ben Simmons to Portland.”
— First Take (@FirstTake) June 21, 2021
Portland gets a staunch defensive presence from the back while the Sixers get another guard who can create on offense and shoot. Simmons will be able to make up for some of Damian Lillard’s defensive shortcomings while “Dame” can take over on offense and use Simmons as an accessory.
This feels too much like a no-brainer, though it remains to be seen if the Sixers brass, which has valued Simmons so highly in the past, will part with him this easily.
This shouldn’t be a surprise as the Toronto Raptors were this close to sending Kyle Lowry to his home city. The Raptors can do it now with a sign-and-trade deal but instead of Matisse Thybulle or Tyrese Maxey, they get the former first overall pick in return.
Lowry, despite being close to the twilight years of his career, is still good to average 12 points and seven assists every night. That’s around what Simmons averages. He’s a bulldog on defense and, most importantly, he can shoot and score during crunch time.
For Simmons, he doesn’t have to be “The Man” in Toronto. Instead, he’ll further bolster an already formidable defensive unit while adding more athleticism and playmaking. Masai Ujiri and Co. have never been shy to pull off big deals. Consider Toronto a dark horse to get this done.