Why NBA execs are eyeing Ben Simmons ahead of trade deadline


The Sixers have the best record in the East, just swept a three-game road trip, and have an MVP candidate leading the team.

So would President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey really think about blowing part of this up?

According to a report Thursday from ESPN's Brian Windhorst, there are at least questions being asked by execs around the league.

Windhorst appeared on The Jump on Thursday to talk about the never-ending Bradley Beal trade rumblings, which the Sixers have been linked to more than once. With Beal not imminently on the move, Windhorst was asked what else league execs are chattering about ahead of the March 25 deadline:

"Well, Ben Simmons was offered for James Harden, so there's a question about whether, if a star becomes available, he could be [on the move].

"And another guy that executives are watching out there, because they're not sure of his future with the organization, is Zach LaVine. Now, I would tell you the Bulls, if they're going to trade a guy like Zach LaVine, who's having a career season, would want to trade him for someone like Bradley Beal. So I think it's not necessarily an either-or. If a player like Bradley Beal is available, that would get Philly or Chicago interested. 

"But if you're looking for players who possibly could be out there on the market, [Simmons and LaVine] are two names that have been mentioned by league executives."

Very interesting, to say the least. Let's break it down into two intriguing parts.

1. Simmons could be on the move for another star

Simmons being on the table for Harden was basically the only way Morey and the Sixers could've swung that deal. But Harden is a unique asset, an all-time great scorer who puts opposing defenses in pretzels every single night and would've turned the Sixers' offense into an unstoppable analytics machine.

Are Beal and LaVine in the same class of asset? I would say no, so the fact that execs think Simmons could still be on the table in those kinds of trades is very interesting.

2. Are execs unsure of Simmons' future in Philly?

The way Windhorst phrased his report makes me think that some execs might be asking the same "future with the organization" questions about Simmons that they're asking about LaVine. Because he's already been offered up, the front office and Simmons have crossed that first threshold. 

And with Embiid on a tear this season and the team making Embiid the clear No. 1 priority, where does Simmons fit into the Sixers' long-term plans? He could be content being the No. 2 for his career... or he, or the team, could eventually look for a change or a better fit.

It's all eyebrow-raising subtext for a Sixers season that is so far going according to plan. They're great... but could a Simmons move make them even better? Perhaps we'll see.

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