Could the Pelicans Be a Surprise Suitor for Ben Simmons?

Philadelphia 76ers
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 05: Philadelphia 76ers Guard Ben Simmons (25) looks on during warmups before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 05, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

The Ben Simmons trade saga has continued to drag on for far longer than anyone has hoped, and many are counting the days until it’s over. The Sixers have done an excellent job not allowing it to be a distraction so far, but the fact of the matter is they will not be a complete team until a trade is completed.

While Daryl Morey’s patient approach to waiting for a star to become available is admirable, the reality that this may not occur is seeming more and more likely. With so few “top 25” players in the league, the Sixers may be wise to look just below that top tier of players and build a roster that fully complements Joel Embiid.

The Trade:

Pelicans Trade:

Pelicans TradePelicans Receive:
Devonte’ GrahamBen Simmons
Brandon IngramShake Milton
2024 First Round Pick (via LAL)Isaiah Joe
2022 Second Round Pick

Why This Makes Sense:

The Pelicans are seemingly stuck as an organization. So much of the holdup revolves around their superstar Zion Williamson whom they drafted first overall in the 2019 draft. Zion has played in just 85 games, and the Pelicans are already on their third coach since he has been in the league. The organization is in desperate need of some stability, and with Williamson still a long way away from taking the court, it may be time for a shakeup.

With their timeline to win seemingly further away than the Pelicans initially planned, investing in the potential of Ben Simmons could prove to be a worthy gamble. Simmons has proved capable of being able to keep a team afloat while his injury-prone counterpart misses a great chunk of games, and the low-pressure environment of New Orleans could be the proper situation for him to bring his game to the next level.

While neither Zion nor Simmons excels at scoring from the perimeter, both play at their best in an up-tempo offense and thrive in the fast-break. Building identity in defense and running the break would be a step forward for the organization and would produce some highlight reel alley-oops between Simmons and Zion when both are on the floor.

Trail Blazers Trade:

Trail Blazers TradeTrail Blazers Receive
CJ McCollum Tobias Harris
Robert CovingtonMatisse Thybulle
2024 First Round Pick (via LAL from NOLA)
2022 Second Round Pick (via NOLA)
2023 Second Round Pick (via PHI)

Why This Makes Sense:

When thinking about organizations in a state of flux, the Trail Blazers are right at the top of the list. Dame Lillard seems the only player that is untouchable, but the Blazers are desperate to make some sort of change to satisfy him. There have been many connections between the Blazers and Ben Simmons, but with the organization unwilling to trade move Lillard, it does not seem likely that this sort of swap will occur. Adding Matisse Thybulle would still bring some of the defensive impact that the team desires, and his offensive limitations would not be as clear on a team built around Damian Lillard.

While Tobias Harris probably isn’t quite the co-star that Dame Lillard is imagining, he is a better-fitting version of CJ McCollum. Adding the consistent production of Tobias Harris while allowing Dame to continue to be the alpha seems to be what Lillard has in mind, and Tobi would be the best post scorer the Blazers have seen since LaMarcus Aldridge. This deal would also land the Blazers three draft picks to prepare them for the rebuild that they are seemingly unaware is around the corner.

Sixers Trade:

Sixers TradeSixers Receive
Ben SimmonsBrandon Ingram
Tobias HarrisDeVonte’ Graham
Matisse ThybulleCJ McCollum
Shake MiltonRobert Covington
Isaiah Joe
2023 Second Round Pick

Why This Makes Sense:

It is somewhat disappointing not to land the A1 star to pair for Joel Embiid, but the Sixers must look to strike the best deal possible in order to avoid wasting another year of Embiid’s prime. Emptying the bench with some solid young players is disappointing, but it is much easier to replace these players than find top-level starters. This would allow the Sixers depth to look something along the lines of this:

  • PG: Tyrese Maxey, DeVonte’ Graham
  • SG: CJ McCollum, Seth Curry, Jaden Springer, Aaron Henry
  • SF: Brandon Ingram, Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz
  • PF: Robert Covington, Georges Niang, Paul Reed
  • C: Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond, Charles Bassey

Finding players to compliment Joel Embiid should be the number one priority for the Sixers at this point. It is somewhat of a hard pill to swallow, but neither Ben Simmons nor Tobias Harris are these types of players. Devonte’ Graham, Seth Curry, CJ McCollum, and Tyrese Maxey would be by far the best selection of guards that Embiid has ever played with, and each has their own individual skills that would improve the Sixers as a team.

It may not be as exciting of a homecoming as it once would have seemed, but Robert Covington would be effective in a role where he just needs to play defense and help out on the boards. He is not as great of a defender of Simmons or Thybulle but is capable of guarding a team’s number one option. Brandon Ingram would also be a terrific wing scorer and a guy that is capable of filling the shoes of the Sixers number two option.

The Sixers must be careful how they navigate the dangerous trade waters ahead. While many get distracted by searching for the best possible name, the Sixers would be wise to shift their focus to building a team of players that bring out the best in Joel Embiid. Surrounding their superstar with this pool of players would go a long way to launching the Sixers back into the category of true championship contenders.

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