As Damian Lillard remains skeptical of the Portland Trail Blazers' ability to build a contending team around him, Neil Olshey and the Blazers front office have to find ways to add different stars to the roster this offseason.
Right now, Philadelphia 76ers hybrid guard Ben Simmons is one of the top players available for trade if a team is coming with the right package. What's Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey looking for in return for Simmons? At least an All-Star caliber player in his prime.
In that case, Portland would have to offer Damian Lillard to reach Philly's criteria, but the Sixers would have to give up more than Simmons in return for Portland to pull the trigger. The next-best option the Sixers could land from the Blazers is their second star CJ McCollum, but a recent report made it clear that won't be enough for Morey to part ways with Simmons and be satisfied.
"McCollum likely isn’t enticing enough to pry Ben Simmons from Philadelphia, even though their salaries virtually match," wrote Jason Quick of The Athletic. "Olshey is known to be close friends with Daryl Morey, his counterpart in Philadelphia, but that friendship won’t be a factor whether Morey considers a McCollum-based offer, even if the pot is sweetened with young players such as Simons or Little."
The Sixers are in a position to contend for a championship now. As they have an MVP finalist in his prime in Joel Embiid, the front office is going to do all they can to build around the veteran center to maximize his potential.
Getting a reliable veteran ball-handler that can stretch the floor and create his own shot would do wonders for Embiid and the Sixers. Unfortunately, McCollum wouldn't fill that void for them. While the chances of McCollum getting moved this year seem high, he likely won't get re-located to Philadelphia.
It's been made clear many times this offseason that if the Sixers are going to make a deal with the Blazers, they're going to shoot for the star in Damian Lillard. Any other deal with Portland, not including Lillard, probably wouldn't include Simmons from the Sixers' end.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_