While trading Ben Simmons for Kyle Lowry may not look great on paper, here is how it could benefit the Sixers if a pick is added.
The Sixers are undoubtedly at a crossroads as they have now failed to reach the Conference Finals for the fourth straight year, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid leading the charge. There have been swirling rumors surrounding potential trades as the fear that this current team has hit its ceiling has begun to set in. One potential move that has continued to resurface itself is a potential homecoming for Kyle Lowry.
The former Villanova product first became linked to the Sixers at the trade deadline. With justifiable concerns about Simmons’ ability to impact the game in the half-court, Lowry was looked at as a potential key to unlocking this. Daryl Morey engaged in talks for the veteran guard, but ultimately a deal was not able to get done, and the Sixers settled for the addition of George Hill. The reported asking price of Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Danny Green, and two first-round picks was far too steep for the 35-year old.
While Lowry has not gotten any younger, the situation surrounding a potential trade has changed a great deal. The 14-year veteran is currently a free agent, and given the Sixers’ lack of cap space, a sign-and-trade would be Lowry’s most likely route to Philly. This would mean that Lowry would have to want to come to the Sixers and also takes away a great deal of the leverage that the Raptors previously had.
It was certainly more appealing to add Lowry to the nucleus of Simmons, Harris, and Embiid rather than replacing one of them, but the current outlook surrounding the team is much different than it was at the time of initial negotiations. If Morey believes Lowry’s veteran leadership and fierce competitiveness could be the difference for the Sixers, a deal like this is certainly on the table. It also allows for the team to keep enough assets for a potential second trade to complete the team.
Raptors Get: Ben Simmons
Sixers Get: Kyle Lowry, 4th Overall Pick
For the Raptors, this is the first step at establishing an identity. They still have some solid pieces, and this season spent in Florida was more or less a wasted year for them. Players like OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and Gary Trent Jr keep them from being in rebuilding mode despite the disappointing season. Adding Ben Simmons would be an interesting move, and getting a potential franchise point guard for what is really just the 4th overall pick would likely be looked at as a win for Toronto.
While Lowry is certainly the driving force for this trade, getting the 4th overall pick is nothing to slouch at on the Sixers’ end. Cade Cunningham is the fairly unanimous top pick, and he will likely be a franchise changer for the Detroit Pistons. Evan Mobley and Jalen Green will likely be the next two picks off the board. Both players are freak athletes with their own individual strengths and should fit right in with the modern NBA.
The fourth pick will likely be either Jalen Suggs or Jonathan Kuminga. Suggs would be a solid pick here, and there is a chance he could get snagged in the top three. The Gonzaga product stands 6’4 and will be a very good NBA combo guard. He is an advanced team defender and is a smart, winning player. While this isn’t a positional need for the Sixers, he has the ceiling of a legitimate NBA all-star, and this is too much to pass up. There are shades of Chris Paul in his game and if he can develop as a shooter and clean up some decision-making. Maxey and Suggs could be a dynamic long-term backcourt, and he is one of the more NBA-ready prospects in the draft.
If you’re looking for NBA-ready, Jonathan Kuminga is not your guy. The 6’8 wing is one of the most versatile players in the draft and is a very explosive athlete. At just 18 years old, Kuminga reclassified from the 2021 to the 2020 high school class before playing for the G League Ignite last season. He is lacking as a shooter but can defend all positions and flashes playmaking potential. He will likely end up as a small-forward or stretch big type of role when he fully develops. While the Congolese hooper may not be the day one impact player the Sixers are searching for, many GMs seem to be licking their chops at Kuminga’s potential, which could pay off in the long run.
Where it Helps the Sixers
Despite being 35-years-old, Lowry seems to have some tread left on the tires. He averaged 17.3 points, 7.3 assists, and 5.4 rebounds last season and knocked down three’s at a 39.6% rate on 7.2 attempts per game. He is a fierce competitor, tenacious defender, and a player much more poised for postseason success. It may not be the flip for a superstar that has been imagined, but Lowry will name a real difference for the Sixers and would be a fine complement to Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.
What is most exciting about this trade is the door is still left open for another trade to occur. The Sixers would likely be able to hold on to Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Paul Reed, Shake Milton, Isaiah Joe, and add Suggs/Kuminga. If an intriguing star is able to shake free, there is a ton of appealing young talent on the roster that an attractive offer could be built out of. Adding the 4th pick would pile on to the list of assets that Morey has to work with, and each player has the potential to become a long-term contributing member of the Sixers as well.
Where it Hurts the Sixers
While it certainly feels as if Ben Simmons has worn out his welcome in Philadelphia, it isn’t a great feeling to dish the former number one overall pick for an aging veteran. Lowry is a fine player with championship pedigree but is certainly a notch below the star-tier that the Sixers may be in search of. You could certainly make the argument that this deal would be selling low on Simmons, but this deal has many potential short-term and long-term benefits for the Sixers.
It also is worth noting that Lowry could have no interest in this deal. Due to him being a free agent, the former Raptors guard would have to agree to this deal in order for it to occur. If the Miami Heat (or another interested team) offer him the contract he desires, he may jump on that, and the Sixers will be forced to go back to the drawing board. It does seem like a storybook ending for the Philadelphia native to return home, so one would have to think this is an idea that Lowry would at least give some serious consideration to.
It is likely that the Simmons sweepstakes will continue throughout the summer. While the pipe dreams of flipping him for a legitimate superstar still linger, it is likely the value of Ben Simmons never rebounds to what it once was. Don’t get caught up in the names and find the deal(s) that give the Sixers the best chance at competing for a championship. This deal would be an excellent start at this goal.