These truly are the dog days of the NBA, as Ben Simmons trade proposals continue to dominate podcast discussions across the internet. The latest comes from one of the most prominent names in the basketball media-sphere, a name that he shares with the All-Star in question: Ringer founder Bill Simmons. Simmons threw out one of the more daring proposals yet on his podcast Wednesday, suggesting the Philadelphia 76ers offer Simmons in exchange for the LA Clippers’ second-best player.
“If you’re the Clippers, you’re not winning the title this year with this Kawhi [Leonard] situation,” Simmons said. “So why isn’t this the team that would kick the tires on Ben Simmons using Paul George as the bait?”
It’s at this point in the pod that any Clipper fans listening spat out their Wednesday morning cereal and completely disregarded the one-way communication aspect of podcasts by screaming obscenities at Simmons through their AirPods. Paul George (who made third-team All-NBA and carried his team to the Conference Finals last season after Kawhi Leonard went down with an ACL injury) for Ben Simmons, a guy who refused to attempt a layup in Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals last year? It’s ludacris upon first listen. However, Simmons would go on to clarify his proposal, suggesting that the Clippers would not only be getting back Simmons, but Philly’s entire treasure trove of assets.
“What if you offer a real guy for Ben Simmons, and you try to basically pillage [76ers President] Daryl [Morey]?” Simmons went on. “It’s like ‘we want Ben Simmons back, plus you’re giving me this, this, this and this,’ get some picks back. You get Ben Simmons to have this whole ‘test-drive his own team for a year’ thing, and then he’s still an asset. Maybe this becomes the way to get [Portland Trail Blazers star Damian] Lillard? Because Portland’s not trading Dame Lillard for Paul George, but maybe they would if it was Ben Simmons and some picks and some other stuff.”
Let’s give Simmons (Bill) the benefit of the doubt, and run an iteration of the trade he’s suggesting in the trade machine. Ben Simmons, along with Tyrese Maxey (a second-year guard who showed a lot of promise last season) and Matisse Thybulle (already an All-Defense team member in just his second season), plus, say, Philly’s first-round picks in 2022 and 2024, along with pick swaps in 2023 and 2025, all for Paul George—it works salary-wise.
One of Simmons’ guests, ESPN’s Zach Lowe, who normally brings Simmons back down to Earth when he throws out these outlandish trades, was shockingly somewhat open to the idea.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s not completely insane,” Lowe responded.
Lowe would go on to say that the fit with Simmons remains an issue. While the Clippers could surround Simmons with more shooting than Philly could, his own unwillingness to take a shot outside the paint makes him a tough star for any team to build around.
Fans of George would argue Simmons’ other guest, Hall-of-Fame reporter Jackie MacMullan, was the only one speaking any sense.
“I’ve got a little bit of vomit right around my lips,” MacMullan said in jest.
She mentioned that Simmons is one of the best in the league at finding three-point shooters, but ultimately she couldn’t see the Clippers pulling the trigger on such a move.
The only way that this deal seems even remotely palatable is if what Simmons mentioned about Lillard is possible; if Lillard (or by that same token Wizards star Bradley Beal) finally decides his time in Portland is up and he wants to be sent to a contender, then perhaps the Clippers would consider flipping George in order to trade the returning assets for Lillard. But that’s a huge if, and it’s too many moving pieces.
It’s also worth considering how Kawhi Leonard would feel about such a trade. Leonard reached out to Paul George back in the summer of 2019 because he wanted to play with him specifically. If the organization moved him for a lesser player and trade assets, it might not sit well with Leonard.
Here’s hoping this is the last time a Simmons (Ben or Bill) trade proposal will be the dominating talking point, as Media Day is next Monday, with training camp following soon after. Before we know it, we’ll once again have actual basketball games to discuss.