In a surprise appearance earlier this week, Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons arrived at the Wells Fargo and took a Covid-19 test before the Sixers’ preseason tip-off. It is important to note that Simmons’ appearance is by no means a sign of his willingness to return to the 76ers, and the search for a deal to trade the young star is still on.
Jake Fischer from Bleacher Report reported that currently, nine teams are interested in trading for Simmons, namely Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, and Toronto. The list now includes a tenth mystery team that has yet to make its interest known to the public.
“There is a 10th ‘mystery’ franchise that has held substantial trade conversations with Philadelphia as of late, sources told B/R, yet it remains unclear, even to members of Klutch Sports, who this purported additional suitor is.”Jake Fischer, Bleacher Report.
Simmons is a great player, and any team would be lucky to have him. However, Morey’s asking price will be high, which leaves many franchises out of contention due to their unwillingness to gut the team to get a player with Simmons’ performance history in big moments. This is not to say that the nine teams mentioned are willing to meet Morey’s astronomical asking price, but the interest is there, and one would have to believe the tenth team is in the same mind space as the other teams vying for Simmons. Who could this mystery team be? Well, if you look at the current landscape of the NBA, there are three likely candidates.
The Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn would be the obvious choice, especially given the recent developments regarding the team’s arrangements with point guard Kyrie Irving. Irving recently expressed that he would not be getting vaccinated against Covid-19, which ultimately led to a decision by the Nets front office to disallow Irving from joining any team activities until he can be a “full-time participant.” Given Irving’s skin in the game regarding vaccine mandates, it’s unlikely he gets the jab just to join the Brooklyn Nets. It seems like all parties are just about ready to move on, and what better trade to make than a Kyrie for Ben Simmons straight-up swap.
The Washington Wizards
The Wizards have a new look this year after trading Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers. By acquiring Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrel, and signing former Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie, there is an excellent young core in D.C. However, this new core is not going to be winning tons of basketball games anytime soon, and Bradley Beal’s championship-contending hopes will have to wait a few years until it even becomes a possibility.
Perhaps it’s time to “Free Bradley Beal” and give Simmons the chance to be the primary piece to a team rebuilding in a beautiful city. Of the new Wizards, only Dinwiddie has a shot at becoming better than Ben Simmons, so Ben can have the ball in his hands and create for scorers like Spence and Kuzma should he end up in Washington. Harrel and Hachimura will be the main front-court players for Washington, and neither of them are very good at defense. At 6’10, Simmons can help cover some of the more agile big men in the league and get this team rolling with some tough defense and transition points.
The Los Angeles Clippers
Hear me out on this one. Kawhi Leonard just signed a 4-year 176.3 million extension with the Clippers but is expected to miss the entire regular season with yet another knee issue. Kawhi is one of the best offensive players in the game, but problems with his health and load management have affected his abilities on the defensive side of the ball. We saw Luka Doncic have his way with Kawhi in stretches of their first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks, and given his age, there is reason to believe that Kawhi’s days of lockdown defense are behind him.
Meanwhile, we saw Paul George and Reggie Jackson carry the offense for the Clippers last year while getting other players involved. In the Western Conference Finals, they could not consistently defend the Phoenix Suns, which cost the Clippers their first-ever trip to the NBA Finals. A Kawhi Leonard for Ben Simmons swap, with some fillers to make the offer more enticing to the Clippers, could bring some benefits to both teams while preparing the Los Angeles Clippers for the long haul. Kawhi and Embiid on the Sixers would be just as lethal a duo as LeBron and AD and would make Philadelphia the favorites in the Eastern Conference.