A report came out of the Athletic early on the morning of December 6th stating that Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard wishes to play with disgruntled star Ben Simmons. In Ben Simmons, Dame would have the most talented teammate of his entire career.
Knowing that there is no way to force Simmons to play for the 76ers, this is a clear message from Dame to his organization: “Get me, Ben Simmons.” Knowing that Portland will do anything to keep their loyal star happy means that the 76ers, having Ben Simmons under contract for a long period of time, finally have the smallest inch of leverage for the first time since before the Harden trade.
The 76ers have been clear about both their asking price and how they are willing to wait as long as possible to get a good return on Ben Simmons. Morey now knows that there is almost no way that the Trail Blazers wouldn’t overpay to get Simmons on their team. This leverage does more than just drive up what Portland would pay to get Simmons. Now that other teams interested in Simmons are aware that Ben Simmons is wanted and potentially could attract Damian Lillard to their team.
This is the turning in the tides that Morey needed in order to orchestrate a trade anywhere near the value that he wants in return for Simmons. Lillard, on the other hand, has made his demand for staying in Portland clearer than ever before. This opens the door to a bunch of options for the 76ers.
The problem with this idea that Dame created in his mind is that the 76ers would have no reason to settle for a small trade. The Trail Blazers would have to feasibly give up the majority of their contributors to get a trade to work, leaving a Dame-Simmons-centered duo with a worse supporting cast.
Portland would also have a reduced chest of draft picks to work with, limiting their roster-building abilities this year as the trade deadline approaches. A duo of Dame and Ben still is not a championship contender in any way. However, nearly any star mixed with Joel Embiid would form a legitimate contender in the East. Whether that star is CJ McCollum or even Dame in a dream scenario.
However, for whatever reason, Dame has made his demands clear and has simply driven up the asking price for a player whose value was at a career-low. With the report, you can bet that other teams were listening just as intently to Lillard’s request for Ben Simmons’ arrival in Portland. With this request, despite what team he plays for, Lillard may have just given the Sixers the biggest assist of the last decade by raising his trade value from the gutter and giving the 76ers a piece of leverage to build off of.