NBA insiders Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe are hosting a special on ESPN today, as we near this week’s NBA Draft. Beyond the future stars that will be picked on Thursday night, there is rampant speculation on the current NBA stars that find themselves in trade rumors. One name who could be in the middle of things this week: Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons.
The former No. 1 pick has been a divisive player throughout his career, lauded for his incredible vision and lockdown defensive ability, but derided for his lack of aggression and refusal to shoot on offense. Things really broke down for him in the postseason, where he was barely a factor in crunch time during the team’s series against the Atlanta Hawks. The top-seeded Sixers were upset by the fifth-seed Hawks in seven games.
Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 6.9 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game this season, all career lows. His scoring numbers tumbled in the playoffs, where he averaged just 11.9 points, on .621/.000/.342 shooting. That abysmal 34-percent free throw shooting mark seemed to indicate serious mental struggles for the 25-year old.
“It will be serious this week,” Woj said on the Simmons rumors. He says that the team is fielding and making offers ahead of the draft.
Woj on Ben Simmons: "It will be serious this week."
— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) July 25, 2021
Woj says Sixers are engaged in trade talks, taking on offers and making offers.
Says the Sixers are looking for best possible player in return. Points out that Simmons has four years left on his deal, which means (A) the Sixers don’t have to do this now + (B) Ben has no leverage
— Adam Aaronson (@SixersAdam) July 25, 2021
As Zach Lowe points out, the Sixers may be selling low on him if they deal him this offseason. The team is squarely in its championship window, though, and it has become very clear that they need to support and build around Joel Embiid, who played at an MVP level for much of this season.
Flipping Simmons for assets that could better compliment Embiid as the team’s core superstar could be a means to that end.
Ben Simmons still has plenty of upside, having turned 25 earlier this week. He is entering the second year of a five-year, $177 million contract, that will pay him $33 million this year, and eclipse $40 million in the final year of the deal: 2024-25.
He’s as fascinating a trade piece as there is in the NBA right now. We’ll see if Woj is right, and Ben Simmons winds up on the move in the coming days.