The trade deadline is roughly one month away and Sixers‘ star point guard Ben Simmons hasn’t played a single game for the team, and Daryl Morey has not shown any signs of budging. As a matter of fact, the Philadelphia 76ers’ President of Basketball Operations has held firm, causing more teams to become interested, including one surprising suitor who witnessed Ben’s postseason meltdown firsthand.
The Atlanta Hawks are currently in free fall, sitting at the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference with no semblance of defense on their team and no semblance of offense without star point guard Trae Young on the court. Atlanta Hawks GM Travis Schlenk has gone on record to blast how the current iteration of his constructed Atlanta Hawks have been playing. Thanks in part to the desperation of not having an underwhelming season, the Atlanta Hawks, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, have emerged as a suitor for Ben Simmons.
At this point in the season, the Hawks are in the bottom five in the league in defensive rating, according to NBA.com, with a 113.1 rating. They are the second-worst team in the NBA in steals per game with only 6.4 and sixth-worst in blocks per game at 4.1. Ben Simmons has been fantastic in both regards over his career, with career averages of 1.7 steals per game and 0.7 blocks per game. Simmons’ switchability wouldn’t be lost on a Hawks team in desperate need of it either, as Simmons regularly guards every position from point guard to center.
All season, the 76ers have been trying for one of two outcomings in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes. They are trying to either convince Ben Simmons to return to court for the 76ers or to get a top-tier game-changer in exchange for their defensive ace.
The Hawks certainly wouldn’t be willing to part with All-Star point guard Trae Young for Ben Simmons. They have no other single player that the Sixers would look to as a centerpiece for a Ben Simmons trade, yet that wouldn’t close the door entirely on Ben Simmons going to the Hawks.
While a trade with the Hawks wouldn’t be able to single-handedly net the Sixers a game-changer, a Ben Simmons trade would open the door to multiple three-team deals. Atlanta’s draft picks and/or young players could help the 76ers to net one of their prized players rather than the loss of picks and projects from the Sixers themselves.
One other consideration as Shams Charania of The Athletic points out is a potential trade involving both frustrated star John Collins and rising star Cam Reddish. Would Atlanta consider such a deal? Would Daryl Morey for that matter? There’s nothing concrete but things continue to shift in Philly’s favor.
While Philadelphia has been standing pat with their defensive-minded point guard, the NBA has been ravaged by injuries and underwhelming performances. This has caused leverage to switch back over in the 76ers’ favor. It has also caused Daryl Morey and the Sixers brass to look like geniuses as teams slowly forget Simmons’ postseason blunders and think of what he would bring to their team now.
Slowly but surely, Daryl Morey’s master plan of rebuilding Simmons’ trade value through the use of time has started to prove true. Teams are forgetting about the player Simmons isn’t and are remembering who he is – a defensive playmaker able to be deployed against any team’s top bucket getters.