Over the last six months we've heard nearly a dozen teams connected, either seriously or tangentially, to the Sixers' ongoing efforts to trade Ben Simmons. It seems teams are interested in a 25-year-old DPOY runner-up with sky-high athleticism; who knew?
One team that has lived more on the fringes than in the middle of trade buzz is the Pelicans, who are looking for ways to solidify their core around Zion Williamson as they navigate Williamson's numerous injuries and his reported ambivalence to playing in New Orleans.
And apparently the Pels' interest in Simmons has led to at least a little discussion between their front office and the Sixers' decision-makers.
NBA insider Michael Scotto reported in a new HoopsHype podcast Wednesday that the Pelicans and Sixers had talks about a possible Simmons trade, and the discussed swap was certainly... interesting.
Here's what Scotto reported, along with added analysis from Bleacher Report insider Jake Fischer, who was a guest on the pod:
"SCOTTO: I'd heard the Pelicans discussed trading future first-round picks and pick swaps with the 76ers for Ben Simmons, league sources told HoopsHype, but Brandon Ingram was not involved in the talks, I'm told - at least as of now.
"FISCHER: I really don't think that a deal just based on pick swaps, that isn't bringing back a Top 25 player to Philadelphia, is going to move Ben Simmons. I just don't."
I'm not sure if Pels GM David Griffin is under the impression that Sam Hinkie is still in charge around these parts, or if he was just trolling, but centering a Simmons deal around picks and pick swaps while Joel Embiid is entering his absolute prime is not getting it done.
If the plan was to pair someone like Ingram with a number of picks and pick swaps, I'd still want more - Ingram isn't good enough to lift the Sixers' ceiling in a significant way - but at least it would make sense in terms of the logic.
But just picks and swaps? I suppose if the Sixers are playing the super long game here, as some have considered in the past, they could stock up on picks and swaps in the Simmons exchange and hope that a player like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal eventually becomes tradeable, in which case they have a treasure trove of assets to send to Portland or Washington.
I really don't care for that approach because it leaves the door way too open for failure. What if those moves never become available and you're just left holding a bunch of picks that won't turn into star-caliber players until Embiid is 34? Not interested at all. Too much risk.
Were I Morey, the talks with New Orleans would start with Williamson and go from there. The Pelicans probably don't want to trade the face of their franchise despite all the question marks surrounding him, but you're not holding on to an asset like Simmons for this long to eventually trade him for pennies on the dollar.
And so we're stuck, still waiting for this deal to finally, mercifully go down. The Sixers are tied for sixth in the East as of Wednesday morning.