At this point in the NBA offseason, it's clear that Ben Simmons is on the Philadelphia 76ers' trade block. While the Sixers aren't in any rush to deal away the 25-year-old three-time All-Star, the chances of Simmons landing on a new team next season are higher than they've ever been since he joined the Sixers in 2016.
Several teams have shown interest in Simmons, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, and the Toronto Raptors. While it seemed the T'Wolves have initially shown the most interest out of the five early suitors, a new report from Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer indicates that the Raptors might've shown the most interest so far.
According to the Bleacher Report writer, it's understood that there is no guarantee Simmons is traded this offseason as the Sixers are willing to hold onto their young star as long as teams aren't willing to meet their desired price. But as teams are inquiring, Fischer reports that the Toronto Raptors have had the most progress with talks regarding a potential Simmons trade this offseason.
"Talks between the Raptors and Sixers are considered to be the most advanced of any early conversations Philadelphia has had for the 25-year-old All-Star." h/t BR
On Monday night, another report from The Action Network's Matt Moore offered a little insight on what the Sixers and the Raptors might've discussed during their early stages of "advanced" conversations related to a Simmons trade.
"Multiple sources confirmed Sunday that the Toronto Raptors have emerged as a team with “significant” interest in Simmons. One source close to talks said discussions have not been substantial as of yet. Multiple sources including those close to talks said a proposed framework including Raptors guards Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and the 4th overall pick in Thursday’s draft for Simmons was rejected by Toronto."
The Sixers' interest in a potential sign-and-trade for Kyle Lowry is far from surprising. In fact, it's expected at this point, considering they attempted to trade for Lowry at the 2021 NBA trade deadline and were among three teams to be in the race for landing him all the way until the end when Toronto decided to keep him ultimately.
While Lowry is an upgrade at the point guard position for the Sixers, he doesn't fit the description of what the Sixers are looking for in a Simmons-centric deal, which is an All-Star player in his prime. Lowry might be an All-Star, but at 35-years-old, his best days are behind him.
It would definitely take more than Lowry for the Raptors to land Simmons, but rejecting an offer that included VanVleet, Anunoby, and a top-five pick was smart on Toronto's behalf. Simmons would make the Raptors a better team, but they would be taking steps backward if they got rid of two core pieces to surround a star with.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey might not have gotten close to landing a haul for Simmons from the Raptors, but he did send out a message to the rest of the NBA with his rejected offer. The message? Ben Simmons is not going to come cheap, no matter how much his second-round performance against the Atlanta Hawks stunted his value temporarily.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.