Initially, the Sixers were looking at star players and, more often, superstar players. That time has passed. With each day, it seems that Simmons’ value may be decreasing but, that’s not the case. Contrary to what other teams may say, there’s still a large value and a big upside for bringing in Simmons.
He’s already the best overall defender in the game, and his offensive game will add to anyone that brings him in. the question teams are forced to ask is if they’re getting the Simmons who gives other teams fits with his overall game or the Simmons that doesn’t seem to have any motivation to get better.
For the Sixers, the team played well to start the season, and they’ve fallen off of late. Mostly, that’s due to the amount of time missed by key players. Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris are all important parts of the Sixers and have missed extended time due to the league’s Covid protocols, and Danny Green and Seth Curry have missed time as well. So, there’s no reason to panic about the team in general but, adding anyone for Simmons would help the team.
The team can still get quality players and some draft pick compensation, and that should be their focus., complementary players and draft picks. You don’t need stars.
A lot has been made of the Sixers stepping back on their demands of a superstar (e.g., Damian Lillard) and accepting lesser players just to unload Simmons. Jaylen Brown has been mentioned of late, but you just can’t trust the Celtics, and keeping Simmons in the same division doesn’t really make sense if he comes back to haunt you.
Instead of looking at all the players, let’s just look at one.
Dejounte Murray from the San Antonio Spurs should be the one player the Sixers go for. A trade for Murray would be a win-win for both teams. The Sixers would replace Simmons and the Spurs, and more importantly, Coach Greg Popovich would get a player who still has a tremendous upside that Popovich has spoken highly about.
Murray is having a career year in his age 25 season. Currently, he’s averaging 19.1 points per game, which is three more than Simmons’ career average and five points more than Simmons had regressed to last season. In addition, he’s playing a career-high 34.7 minutes per game and producing more than anyone could have expected.
This season Murray, a 6’4″ point guard with a 6’10” wingspan, is playing like the player that everyone assumed Simmons would become. Given the time on the floor, Murray has become highly disruptive to opposing teams’ offenses while averaging 2.0. steals per game. That’s Simmons level defense and what people expect from Simmons year in and year out.
Murray is also averaging 8.1 assists per game and sits 7th overall in the league in that category. Behind players like Luka Doncic, Trae Young, Chris Paul, as well as noted stat hogs, James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
Simmons saw his assists drop to 6.9 per game last season, despite having a better quality of player surrounding him on the floor. Murray, who also shoots around four three-pointers per game, would force opposing defenses to actually guard him on the perimeter when he’s on the floor. While he’s only shooting 30.8% from beyond the arc this season, he’s still willing to take them and can make enough of them to keep the defense honest.
Oh yes, and of course, he’s also averaging 8.5 rebounds per game. Nothing to shake your head about, considering he’s a point guard, and most of the twenty people averaging more rebounds are centers and forwards. Murray has quietly developed into the player that everyone had hoped Simmons would be and has neglected to become.
Moving Simmons now may not seem like the best move as teams become a little more desperate later in the season, but for the betterment of the team, its players, and its fans, it’s time to let him go. There’s nothing but aggravation coming from Simmons, and the Sixers management has played hardball more than long enough. Cut the chord.