Opinion: Why the Sixers Right to Pass On the Pistons’ Deal

PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 07: Shirts line the seats of the Wells Fargo Center for fans before the Eastern Conference Semifinal Game between the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers on May 07, 2018 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

There have been plenty of rumors surrounding the Sixers and Ben Simmons in recent months. One recent rumored deal for Ben Simmons involved the Detroit Pistons, and the question became, should the Sixers have taken the deal?

It’s at this point I would also like to remind those reading that this is the second of two battling opinion pieces on this topic, to read the first piece, click the link here.

Now, much has been made this season about the Sixers and their current relationship, or lack thereof, with star Ben Simmons. The entire world has known that Simmons has desired a trade since at least June of 2021, yet the Sixers have yet to grant that request. At the likely direction of Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Management, Simmons has retaliated by refusing to play for the team, sitting out of all NBA games until he is granted his request.

That ultimatum did not move Daryl Morey, who refuses to just trade Simmons for the sake of trading him. Without a second thought, the goal of Morey has been to flip Simmons into a top-tier NBA talent like Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal. That obviously hasn’t happened yet, but as we approach the NBA deadline, more and more is coming out about not only what could be offered for Simmons going forward but what offers the Sixers have already spurned. This brings us to the most update on the trade market from Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer.

In a recent piece, Fischer discusses the availability of Detroit’s Jerami Grant. He starts by mentioning that Grant (after Simmons) is viewed by many members of league personnel as the best player with the highest chance of being available before the February 10th deadline. Immediately following this statement, Fischer connects Simmons and Grant by mentioning a proposed trade from Detroit to Philadelphia that involved sending Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Kelly Olynk, and a first-round pick.

The immediate words following expressed how disinterested Philadelphia was in such a deal, but the question dividing many fans quickly became, should they have been disinterested?

It’s a question worth addressing, as one cannot deny there is value in the package offered by Detroit. Jerami Grant is a well-respected two-way player who many teams are currently pining after. Saddiq Bey is a 3&D specialist who appears to have more potential than just that going forward. Kelly Olynyk, a floor-stretching big and a first-round pick from Detroit, is always valuable (in theory).

While there’s certainly value to be had in that deal, is it enough to warrant a deal? Not quite as there are issues that present themselves with each of the potential assets.

Jerami Grant, for instance, has made it clear that whoever his next team is, he wants a featured offensive role. That seems like a fair ask for a player who has averaged 21.6 points per game since the beginning of last season. It’s not quite that simple, however, as the Detroit Pistons offer a lot more opportunity as a bottom-dwelling team than the Sixers.

Currently, Jerami Grant is averaging a usage rate of 26.3 this season with Detroit. That is the same number as Jimmy Butler with the Miami Heat. Playing for a contender wouldn’t allow for the same opportunity for Grant as his usage rate would likely diminish by five or more percent alongside Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.

Grant additionally hasn’t been very accurate in his high usage role. This season, for instance, Grant is shooting 41.4% from the field and 33.1% from deep. Those numbers are not exactly what Daryl Morey is looking for in a Simmons deal. Between his high usage, poor shooting, and, not to mention, his injury history, Jerami Grant simply cannot be the centerpiece in a Ben Simmons trade, as is the case as well for Saddiq Bey.

Pistons’ sophomore Saddiq Bey is a rising player in the NBA. He’s a talented 3&D wing with scoring upside making him an extremely desirable player in theory. What works against Bey is a similar argument that exists for Grant as it comes down to shooting percentages and an unrealistic usage rate.

Bey has struggled to shoot this season, making only 38.2% of his shots from the floor and 33.2% from three. For a player who is supposed to be a high-quality 3&D wing, a poor shooting percentage kind of spoils the point. While he certainly could rebound and bring his percentage closer to his numbers last season, that’s no guarantee, and it’s a lot to ask for when you’re giving up a three-time All-Star.

It’s not just the shooting with Bey either but another case of stats being boosted by playing for a team at the bottom of the conference. The 11-34 Detroit Pistons have afforded Bey the opportunity to have a featured offensive role. This season, Bey’s usage rate clocks in at 20.9, which is higher than Gordon Hayward, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Tyrese Maxey. There is no chance that the rate continues in Philadelphia, especially with Grant coming over, which would vastly affect his production.

Saddiq Bey is a solid young player with a bright future ahead of him. However, while some feel he looks the part of an up-and-coming star, he’s more likely a fourth or fifth starter on a playoff team at best.

Now we come to Kelly Olynyk. What can you say, he ripped out Kevin Love‘s arm as if he were Chewbacca, and he can normally stretch the floor as a big man. This season, however, Olynyk is shooting only 31.4% from three. Is that an outlier? Or is Olynyk losing his touch? Either way, it’s not worth the risk for Philadelphia especially considering the $25 million ($16 million guaranteed) he is owed over the next two seasons.

Finally comes the draft pick the Pistons offered in the deal. While, in theory, a first-round pick from Detroit sounds like a top-tier asset, it’s important to note that there was no mention of protections on the pick or what year it would be for. Many draft picks across the league are dealt with specific protections that make it extremely unlikely that said pick will ever convey.

To attack this concept in one fell swoop, the Detroit Pistons have, in fact, already traded their 2022 first-round pick, so Philadelphia would not be receiving this year’s pick in a Simmons deal. Detroit will, however, have their pick in the offseason, though, as the pick, currently residing in OKC, is top-16 protected, meaning that not only would the Pistons have to make the playoffs, but they would need a better record than two other teams in the playoffs. It is safe to say that specific pick will not be conveying this season.

Now, as to what year and protections apply to the pick offered to Philadelphia? That I cannot say, but one can safely assume it is not one that would bring the Sixers a top-five level draft talent.

From top to bottom, this deal is filled with “fine” pieces but no more than that. Philadelphia is much better off continuing to wait, even if it means until the offseason or beyond. To summarize Daryl Morey’s recent comments, while one may feel the Sixers are squandering this season by not trading Ben, they’re squandering multiple years by trading him for an insufficient return.