In the early days of the Ben Simmons saga, there was one mock trade that many agreed to be reasonable on both sides. That was sending the former number one pick Portland in exchange for CJ McCollum. Multiple analysts tossed this idea around and considered it a win-win scenario.
Fast forward a couple of months, and Simmons has still not been moved. Multiple teams have had reported interest in the three-time All-Star, but no offer has enticed Daryl Morey enough to get a deal done.
With training camp just two weeks away, things are about to get messy. Simmons' camp has made it abundantly clear he will not be attending, and the Sixers do want this cloud hanging over their heads as they prepare for the regular season.
Morey has remained focused on trading Simmons for a star, but none have become available. For a moment, it looked like Damian Lillard might be on his way to requesting a trade but ultimately opted to stay in Portland.
As the offseason rapidly approaches its end, it begs the question if Morey should consider flipping Simmons for a player like McCollum.
Multiple reports stated that Morey wants an All-Star caliber player in return for Simmons. While McCollum might not have any All-Star nominations under his belt, he plays at that level. The Blazers guard has averaged 20+ points per game in each of the last six seasons.
In 47 games for the Blazers last season, McCollum averaged 23.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG, and 4.7 APG. He did so on good efficiency, shooting 45.8% from the floor, 40.2% from three, and 81.2% from the line.
This swap might not make the Sixers better, but it makes them different. Between Simmons' value taking a hit and this situation continuing to get uglier, Morey might have to consider a lateral move that keeps them in a position to remain competitive in the East.
McCollum fits the Sixers in multiple ways, with age being one of the major components. At 29-years-old, he is in the prime years of his career and matches the timeline of Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
In terms of style of play, McCollum is the exact type of player the Sixers have needed. He is a guard who can put the ball on the floor and create, along with being able to score on all three levels.
We saw in the playoffs how Seth Curry was able to elevate his game playing off Embiid. Putting a high-powered guard like McCollum next to the All-Star could land the same or even better results.
Not only can he get it done off the dribble, but McCollum is an extremely efficient shooter off the catch as well. Last season he connected on 47.6% of his catch-and-shoot threes. When McCollum isn't operating the two-man game with Embiid, he can spot up and be a reliable kick-out option for the All-Star big man.
The final piece that makes McCollum a good fit is team hierarchy. During his time in Portland, he has thrived as a number two option playing alongside Damian Lillard.
Having already played alongside an elite-level talent for so long should make it an easy transition for playing with a guy like Embiid. McCollum is a guy who understands where he fits on the team and can thrive in his role.
Obviously, there are going to be drawbacks as no trade is perfect. The biggest concern in acquiring McCollum is his injury history. Battling the injury bug is something he has dealt with over the past three seasons and cost him more than a handful of games.
At this point in the offseason, there is no telling how this saga ends. Morey has been patient all summer and does not look to be changing his stance anytime soon.
With Simmons' value taking a hit in the postseason and continuing to drop the longer he holds out, Morey's hand might eventually be forced. McCollum might not be the home run acquisition, but he checks a lot of boxes and provides an element they need in the backcourt. It is a swap that is at least worth considering.
Kevin McCormick covers the Philadelphia 76ers for South Jersey's 97.3 ESPN and Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCNBA.