The inevitable Ben Simmons breakup has been a rollercoaster of emotions for the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans since things turned south. The disastrous end to the Sixers’ postseason run and the national media disaster all but sealed this fate and led Simmons to take part in his journey to burn all bridges with the Sixers organization this offseason.
Since this time, there have been nonstop conversations revolving around what the potential return in a Ben Simmons trade could be. Daryl Morey has elected to weather this media storm, and the NBA trade market is beginning to shift to prove that this was a worthy gamble.
State of the NBA
Portland Trail Blazers
The tensions in Portland continue to rise as a new rumor seemingly leaks out every day. From the reports that Lillard wants to play with Ben Simmons to the whispers of concern for Lillard’s upcoming contract, there have been much better days to be a Portland Trail Blazer.
While a package of CJ McCollum and picks was seemingly previously on the table, Daryl Morey seems to be content on continuing to play the waiting game on a potential Lillard deal. It may not always seem like it, there are teams in a far worse spot as an organization than the Sixers, and Morey has no plans on bailing them out.
Perhaps a more surprising storyline to watch, the Indiana Pacers are seemingly not satisfied with the direction they are currently headed. Indiana has a record of 10-16 on the season, which puts them at 13th place in the Eastern Conference. The fit between Miles Turner and Domantas Sabonis has never been perfect, and the decision to blow it up and rebuild is becoming more and more realistic.
This is also as interesting as the Pacers have shown interest in Ben Simmons dating back to the summer. While the deal based around Malcolm Brogdon is now off the table as Brogdon cannot be traded after signing a contract extension, there are a number of solid players on the Pacers roster that could pique interest. Indiana likely lacks the difference-maker the Sixers are in search of, but they appear likely to be a team to throw their hat in the ring for a three-team deal.
This is seemingly a less likely destination, but it is worth noting that there has been some interest from the Sixers end regarding Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The OKC Thunder have a fascinating roster and an unclear timeline for when they want to compete. One thing that the Thunder have seemed to prioritize is adding ball-handlers at every position, and Ben Simmons fits this mold.
Thunder General Manager Sam Presti has made it his mission to capitalize on value. Targeting a “buy low” on Ben Simmons before showcasing him and shipping him off for a ridiculous amount of draft picks is a move that would absolutely fit the Thunder’s plans. Put nothing past the man that already owns 36 draft picks over the next 5 years.
When looking at teams that are bordering on panic mode, the Sacramento Kings absolutely fit the description. Currently, in 11th in the Western Conference with a record of 10-14, the Kings have a group of mismatched players and unclear direction. De’Aaron Fox could be the player that shakes free as a result of this, although there are concerns regarding his fit next to Tyrese Maxey. The Kings are in desperate need of a trade to inject life back into the franchise, as it has now been 15 years since they ended the season with a winning record.
State of the Sixers
While it has been frustrating that there has not been closure with the Simmons situation, it is important to remember that this trade can only happen once. It is entirely possible that the missing piece that Morey is looking for is not even available yet.
However, it is a massive win from the Sixers’ perspective that the trade market is beginning to establish itself. It is important to note that (outside of James Harden last year) there have been very few stars available to trade for. These haven’t been missed opportunities from Morey’s perspective, but rather a waiting game until the deal becomes possible.
The talks about the drama dragging on for four years are largely overstated, but don’t expect anything Simmons does (or doesn’t) to change what Morey values as a return in a trade. The potential emergence of several players becoming available is clearly a benefit to the Sixers as they continue to grind through the season.
It is also worth noting that the free agents who signed last season are eligible to be traded after December 15th, which will open up some more potential additions for Morey. There are still two months until the February 10th trade deadline passes by, with many events still to unfold, but the early signs are that things are breaking in favor of the Sixers.