When Ben Simmons became available for a trade, many had their eyes on Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard as a potential target for the Sixers. As Lillard was reportedly growing disgruntled behind the scenes, it seemed it was only a matter of time before he requested a trade from Portland.
In that case, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey would've more than likely worked on centering a package around Simmons to land Lillard. At this point, Lillard is no longer being painted as a disgruntled star.
Instead, he's fully embracing another season with the Blazers leaving the Sixers stuck with Simmons and entertaining packages from teams that don't possess the same star quality to deal. While Portland won't entertain a Simmons-Lillard trade at this time, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reports that they've attempted to discuss moving Lillard's co-star CJ McCollum in a package for Simmons instead.
"According to my sources, they're talking about CJ McCollum," Smith said on First Take Wednesday. That's not all. In addition to McCollum, Smith also reports that former Sixers wing Robert Covington could also be in the mix. "They're talking about Robert Covington, and they're talking about a couple first-round picks."
Per Smith's on-air report, the Sixers "haven't been willing to bite" on a McCollum, Covington-led package. As Philly holds out hope for an All-Star, the Sixers continue to hold onto Simmons. However, Simmons' holdout could force Philly to take less than what they've been asking for a little later on down the line.
While the Sixers hold the leverage in the situation due to Simmons being on a multi-year contract, they are better off without having the off-court distraction that is the disgruntled Simmons and his camp. The sooner the Sixers replace the three-time All-Star, the better.
Of course, Morey isn't going to sell Simmons for pennies on the dollar just to wash his hands of the situation. Still, as the regular season approaches, it might be time for the Sixers to accept they won't land a Lillard -- but would still be solid gaining a McCollum and Covington package along with picks that could lead to another veteran or two in a later trade.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.