Ben Simmons reportedly won’t attend Sixers training camp next week and doesn’t intend to play for the franchise ever again. What should Philadelphia do next? Where will Simmons be playing on opening night? Our staff weighs in.
Which team would be the best fit for Ben Simmons?
Chris Mannix: Portland. This is easy. The Sixers want Lillard, but they should settle for McCollum, a high scoring guard who would complement Embiid and play well off of Tyrese Maxey. Portland's anemic defense gets a boost with Simmons and Lillard gets a new backcourt mate, one who can guard four positions and take ball handling pressure off of him. It's not perfect, but it works for both sides.
Howard Beck: San Antonio. I don’t know if Simmons wants to be there (which is irrelevant, anyway), and I’m not saying he makes the Spurs a contender, or that they have the best supporting cast for him. But the Spurs do have an excellent record of developing young talent, and one of the best shooting coaches in the league, Chip Engelland. Also, it’s a small market, with far less media scrutiny. After his rocky ride in Philly, Simmons could use a respite.
Rohan Nadkarni: I want to see Simmons on the Blazers. I still think the McCollum-Simmons swap makes sense for both sides. Simmons should theoretically be a perfect pick-and-roll partner for Damian Lillard, and also slot in nicely as a wing defender next to RoCo and Norm Powell. Jusuf Nurkic would have to vacate the paint for this to work, but Simmons can’t be solely a point guard at his next stop.
Robin Lundberg: Portland. The oft discussed Ben Simmons-for-McCollum trade makes sense for both sides. It would allow the Blazers to show Damian Lillard they are attempting to do something by bringing in a player who does much of what Dame doesn't (and vice versa) and would give the Sixers another shot-creator that they can certainly use.
Michael Shapiro: San Antonio. While there’s no perfect fit among the league’s crop of contenders, the Spurs are the most sensible fit. They can give him the reins as the face of their franchise, building upon their core of young wings. Perhaps this isn’t Simmons’s desired destination, but from a sheer basketball perspective, perhaps no place can better rehabilitate his value.
Pickman: Portland. Like Philadelphia, there are tons of questions surrounding the Blazers and their core. So how about Simmons and Damian Lillard team up in Portland in what would be one of the most intriguing pairings in the entire league. I doubt the return would be exactly what the 76ers would want, but imagine Lillard and Simmons running pick-and-rolls together and attacking opposing defenses with their offensive skill-sets.
What's the best move for the Sixers?
Beck: Stay the course. The Sixers are under no obligation to trade Simmons on his timeline, or to his preferred destination(s). They have to do what’s best for the franchise, long term. Make a deal when you get the right offer, whether that’s tomorrow, in two weeks or at the trade deadline. Dealing Simmons immediately, just to resolve the conflict, would be a mistake. Fine him for every day he fails to report, and keep working the market. Simmons, despite his warts, is an elite talent. The offers will be there.
Mannix: Don't be pressured into a bad deal. What Simmons is doing is unprecedented. Four years and $147 million remaining on his deal? Several execs texted me in the aftermath of this story breaking saying they hoped Philly wouldn't cave. The Sixers have the power to bleed Simmons financially while Adam Silver—who can't be happy about this news—may exercise some of the NBA's influence, too. Simply offloading Simmons for whatever deal they can get would be a bad look.
Nadkarni: Stop this draft pick nonsense and just go get somebody who can contribute to the team. The Sixers could have won the Finals last year if they simply had somebody who was actually willing to shoot in the fourth quarter. Embiid is a championship-level talent and Philly can’t waste his prime. At this point, the goal should be acquiring plus-rotation players who can stay on the floor in the playoffs. Getting caught up in a star or asset chase is a waste of time.
Pickman: It appears as if it’s a matter of when, and not, if, a deal involving Ben Simmons gets done. But that doesn’t mean this is exactly the best time to move him. Certainly the Sixers are looking for a major haul for their star guard and his value is not helped by his recent postseason struggles. Maybe the two parties are able to come to an agreement in which Simmons returns to play in an effort to up his value, and help move a possible deal along.
Lundberg: The best move for the Sixers would have been to trade Simmons when his value was higher, but at this point I think they need to look for a proven player rather than draft picks. Simmons being a failure in Philadelphia may be it for The Process but as long as Joel Embiid is healthy the team needs to look to compete rather than toward the future.
Shapiro: Daryl Morey and Co. should prioritize getting multiple immediate rotation players in a potential deal. It feels too late in the (apologies) process for Philadelphia to trade Simmons for years of pick capital or an unproven rookie. Philadelphia is still eyeing the Finals next season. Reloading around Joel Embiid is the main priority if Simmons is in fact dealt.
What jersey will Ben Simmons be wearing on opening night?
Nadkarni: He won’t be wearing a jersey. He will be chilling at home in some sweats watching the games on television like most people. I still think this situation is going to take some time to resolve. I have a feeling the Sixers won’t want to cave too quickly after Simmons’s decision to skip training camp. I expect the trade to happen after a few games, not dissimilar to what happened with James Harden last year.
Mannix: None. Something tells me with both sides dug in, this standoff extends into the season.
Beck: None (assuming he’s still refusing to report to the Sixers). It’s hard to see a deal getting done in the next three to four weeks, given that the Sixers haven’t seen an offer they like to this point. The market will change -- perhaps in their favor -- once teams start playing (and losing) games. The Sixers need a few suitors to get desperate, or for new suitors to emerge. The demand for Simmons will be higher in late November than late September.
Shapiro: The Spurs are sputtering to the end of the Gregg Popovich era with little headline talent on the roster. Perhaps they'll take one more big swing in the post-Duncan era.
Lundberg: I'm tempted to say none. I could see this dragging out with Daryl Morey not wanting to deal Simmons for what he perceives as under market value. Which might lead to an awkward situation or a trade that doesn't allow him to be in the lineup to start the season. If picking one team outside of Philly I'll say the Blazers, simply because like I mentioned above I think they make the most sense.
Pickman: None. Even with ESPN’s report on Tuesday and the report from the Philadelphia Inquirer last month, I’m still guessing Simmons starts the season on the 76ers’ roster. Philly appears to be seeking a massive return in exchange for Simmons, who still is one of the most desirable players currently on the trade market, and I’m a bit dubious they get all they want by Opening Night. Do I think Simmons will be a Sixer next postseason? I don’t. But Opening Night, I think he might be.
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