The Ben Simmons saga has officially reached peak saturation in Philadelphia after the Sixers' ignominious exit from the playoffs Sunday night. He's the talk of the city, he's the talk of the NBA world, and the conversation isn't going away for a while.
Simmons scored five points in Game 7 and was reluctant to initiate any offense on his own for yet another postseason, leading a number of vocal fans to call for his exit this summer. Simmons, who turns 25 next month, has four years left on his max deal, which kicked in this season and runs through the 2024-25 season, carrying cap hits between $30 million and $40 million in each of the four remaining years.
He carries a hefty price tag for a guy who doesn't know how to shoot the ball, and while that has many fans worrying his value has never been lower, one NBA insider says the opposite is true because of everything else Simmons does:
While this all feels a little fast, we should remember that Daryl Morey & Co. were reportedly willing to trade Simmons as recently as this past season, when the Sixers came within spitting distance of trading Simmons to Houston for James Harden before opting to keep the young franchise cornerstone because the Rockets' demands were a little rich for the front office's blood.
Trading Simmons is in no way off the table for President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey, and while the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up has a number of good-to-great skills, his inability to shoot the ball or get his own buckets in the playoffs year after year is a serious concern, and one that likely kept the Sixers from the Eastern Conference Finals this time around.
NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick examined the conundrum of trading Simmons after Game 7:
"Simmons is still young, yes, but most of the offensive development it was sensible to expect a few years back hasn’t materialized. The basketball world saw him shoot 34.2 percent from the foul line in the playoffs and get substituted out late in close games.
"Rivers’ insistence throughout the season that aspects of Simmons’ game were under-appreciated was not entirely delusional. As a transition playmaker and versatile, talented defender, Simmons would indeed be difficult to replace, even though the appeal of complementing Joel Embiid with perimeter shot creation and outside shooting is obvious."
So, who exactly would be in the market for Simmons, you ask?
Sixers fans tried their hand at a number of trades the other day, though not all of those ideas were... realistic.
The Warriors have long been rumored as a possible destination for Simmons, because surrounding him with shooters seems like a logical solution to his shortcomings and the Warriors have two of the greatest shooters ever. But does Daryl Morey take Andrew Wiggins back in that deal? Morey likes smart basketball, and Wiggins is an efficiency black hole. I don't see a path to a deal there.
One interesting solution would be the Pacers, who were reportedly listening to offers on their biggest names like Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis this past season as they realize their ceiling. Brogdon was a Sixers target during the Al Horford offseason, and would be a truly perfect fit next to Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
The Raptors also represent an interesting possibility. The Sixers are reportedly still interested in Kyle Lowry, and the Raptors would like to get younger as they retool for the future. Moving Simmons in a Lowry sign-and-trade (along with other assets in return from Toronto) would help Morey hold on to guys like Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle during negotiations, and Lowry would slide in perfectly as the starting point guard.
There are numerous other options to look into, which we'll get into as the offseason goes on and maybe some more news trickles out from behind closed doors.
In any case, it's going to be a fascinating offseason as the Sixers go from title-chasing to searching for emergency roster fixes on the fly.