Ever since the Philadelphia 76ers experienced another disappointing playoff exit, All-Star point guard Ben Simmons’ future has remained a key factor around the franchise.
Simmons has yet to play a single game in the 2021-22 campaign, and that doesn’t appear it will change any time soon. It has led to constant discussions about his expected departure, but there hasn’t been any movement beyond the reported interest in his services.
The 76ers are sitting firmly on a hefty asking price for the 25-year-old, but that hasn’t moved the needle toward garnering a feasible trade in their eyes. The star point guard is currently in the second year of his five-year, $177.2 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 campaign. His contract contains no player or team options.
A fresh set of teams interested in trading for Ben Simmons, according to @ShamsCharania:
• Trail Blazers
• Cavs pic.twitter.com/PJreoRTwOs
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 13, 2021
With the trade deadline being less than two months away, here are the three best landing spots for Simmons.
Throughout the process, the Timberwolves have remained heavily linked to Simmons.
However, the dialogue hasn’t moved past their reported interest. Minnesota presents an intriguing landing spot for Simmons as he would be joining a young team with plenty of upside led by Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Edwards has quickly developed into one of the league’s best young talents behind his explosive athleticism and scoring prowess. Meanwhile, Towns is one of the league’s best big men, behind his scoring from inside the paint to the 3-point line along with his strong rim protection.
Simmons would fit in nicely as his passing and defensive skill set would be a welcomed sight. He wouldn’t necessarily need to expand his game more than what is. He could continue to work primarily in the paint offensively, as Towns can stretch the floor with his outside shooting while Edwards can benefit from Simmons’ court vision and passing.
"It's time for guys to step up."
Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Chris Finch after loss to Mavs pic.twitter.com/m5zhJC3Bfr
— Bally Sports North (@BallySportsNOR) December 22, 2021
His presence could change the dynamic positively on both ends of the floor in Minnesota. They are a team that is on the verge of making a serious playoff push, and Simmons’ presence could be what lifts them onto that path.
The Timberwolves would likely present a trade package headlined by point guard D’Angelo Russell, who is in the third year of his four-year, $117.3 million deal. Russell would fit the bill of what the 76ers need with a ball-handling point guard that can create his own shot.
He’s struggled with his health over the last couple of seasons, but when healthy he’s a bonafide offensive talent. The 25-year-old holds the experience of playing alongside an elite center, which would make the transition a smoother process.
The Timberwolves could offer an appealing package headlined by Russell along with Jaden McDaniels and a couple of first-round picks over the next couple of years. Minnesota possesses a youthful roster that could intrigue the 76ers to make a move.
The question becomes whether Philadelphia believes a youthful trade package is what they want in exchange for Simmons. There is no question that the Timberwolves are looking to build their long-term future around Towns and Edwards.
New York Knicks
After exploding onto the scene last season as one of the league’s most pleasant surprises, the Knicks are struggling to recapture that magic.
New York is floundering below the .500 mark, while questions have arisen concerning head coach Tom Thibodeau’s future and All-Star forward Julius Randle’s leadership. A change is certainly needed as the Knicks are stuck in neutral that could see them fall out of the playoff picture.
Acquiring Simmons may be the shot in the arm New York needs to shift things in the right direction. Thibodeau would love to have the three-time All-Star, as his instincts and performance defensively fit into the identity that New York is trying to maintain.
Simmons is limited with his offensive skill set, but his passing ability would be greatly utilized while his effectiveness in the paint wouldn’t conflict with Randle, who has become a highly effective outside shooter.
New York needs a tone-setter defensively, and the LSU product fits that bill. He is a stout individual defender that can work effectively in transition. His limitations offensively wouldn’t be seen as a detractor, but lend to the other talent getting increased opportunities through his passing ability.
Bronx built. pic.twitter.com/HPvEsKeAJn
— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) December 22, 2021
Simmons would be joining a team where he could have a defined role as a primary ball-handler, while his versatility defensively would allow him to fit into the fold. The Knicks wouldn’t become a championship contender with his addition, but it would be a significant step forward toward becoming a playoff-caliber team.
Meanwhile, the Knicks possess feasible trade pieces to make an intriguing offer. They have a pair of first-round selections for both 2022 and 2023, which is a strong starting point for any package.
Given New York’s history with failing to land talent in free agency, it would work in their favor to add talent through the trade market. If the move works out smoothly to push the team forward, it would only make them more appealing as a landing spot.
The manner in which the 2021-22 campaign is unfolding, it would be surprising to see New York not at least attempt to make a strong push to land Simmons.
Portland Trail Blazers
Yes, All-Star point guard Damian Lillard has shot down rumors that he has voiced to the Blazers he wants to play with Simmons.
However, it’s hard to quiet that noise with Portland heading in the wrong direction, holding a 13-19 record through the first 32 games. The franchise clearly is showing signs that a shakeup is needed to provide a much-needed spark.
The Blazers clearly have no interest in moving Lillard despite the lingering chatter concerning his long-term future. The star point guard hasn’t aired any internal desire for a trade, but the direction the team is heading could change that sentiment.
Simmons would be an interesting fit alongside Lillard as he could help tremendously with the perimeter defense. His passing and ball-handling would lift some of that pressure off the fellow star guard’s shoulders.
According to reports, Damian Lillard wants to play with Ben Simmons in Portland.
— SiriusXM NBA Radio (@SiriusXMNBA) December 11, 2021
The 25-year-old’s playing style wouldn’t conflict with Lillard, who operates more around the mid-range to the perimeter with the ability to get to the rim. Simmons could prove to be quite effective in transition as his length and court vision would allow for easy buckets.
The Blazers wouldn’t necessarily need Simmons to be a prominent offensive factor, especially outside the paint. Adding that aspect to his game would certainly help, but the lack of that wouldn’t make him a liability on the floor.
Beyond the fit, the Blazers have some intriguing talent to offer, as guard CJ McCollum would be a welcomed addition in Philadelphia. He’s a bonafide scorer, who steps up his performance in the playoffs as a reliable offensive factor and late-game shot-maker.
However, Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice reported earlier this month that the 76ers are not interested in a trade centered around a Simmons-McCollum swap. The point of contention would be that Philadelphia would still lack a true point guard as McCollum has worked primarily off the ball.
Without Simmons, the 76ers don’t possess a true ball-handler outside of Tyrese Maxey. Meanwhile, McCollum isn’t heralded for his defense, as that could be another reason for the hesitation despite his offensive prowess.
Shams Charania of The Athletic also reported that the 76ers already rejected an offer of McCollum, a protected first-round selection, and Anfernee Simons or Nassir Little. Outside the Knicks, the Blazers may have the best to offer with immediate significant impact players that could push the team forward.
Ultimately, until Philadelphia drops its steep asking price, Simmons will remain with an uncertain future.