The Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans officially kicked off the summer with a trade that was about exchanging draft picks and creating cap space. The trade did not include any household names but was big enough to set the stage for the offseason ahead. As the 2021 NBA Draft looms, we can expect action to ramp up in the coming days, possibly ending with some of the game's biggest stars finding new homes.
One name on the market for some time now is Philadelphia 76er Ben Simmons, a former number one pick and two-time All-Star; Simmons is a generational talent that can impact the game on both ends of the floor at an elite level. However, he has garnered these individual accolades without a consistent jump shot, which proved to be an issue in the Sixers' most recent playoff run as Simmons did little to help the team stave off elimination the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. Ben Simmons is a fantastic basketball talent even without a jumper, but why is it that the Sixers are having trouble landing a deal for the young Aussie star?
"The Sixers are dealing from a position of weakness. We all saw the free throw shooting, we all saw the not attempting of shots in the fourth quarter. If the Sixers are looking to get a star in exchange for Simmons, finding a player that is available and getable is going to be tough."
Zach Lowe, Greeny on ESPN
We live in a "what have you done for me lately" kind of time these days, where your best performance was your last performance. Hence, talks of deals involving Ben Simmons focus on what he cannot do versus the many things he can bring to the table. Because of this, the Sixers have struggled to get close to the star power they desire in exchange for Simmons as teams would be remiss in giving up a young star of their own for a player they cannot give the ball to down the stretch, especially when accompanied by a big contract.
Teams will want more than just Simmons if they are to give up a key player in the process, and unless you are getting a top ten player in the league in return, Ben Simmons and the likes of Tyrese Maxey for a star outside of the top ten is a price the Sixers would not be willing to pay. The question now is, where do they go from here?
Perhaps it's time to take a long, hard look at Philadelphia's playoff run. To the naked eye, Simmons was the clear-cut reason why the team had lost, as his inability to stay on the floor and impact the game on both ends rendered him virtually useless. However, Joel Embiid was also not in great physical condition and was therefore unable to be productive down the stretch, while their other max player Tobias Harris seemed to struggle down the stretch as well. There is just more to it than Ben Simmons' terrible shooting, and if that is why the Sixers cannot get a star in return for Ben, then it might be time to look at dealing other pieces to better compliment Embiid and Simmons.
Harris could be a great starting point as a guy with a massive contract that can help a young team earn their stripes before his contract comes off a rebuilding team's books. That way, a young team gains valuable experience from a great NBA player that works extremely hard and then gets to try their luck in free agency once Harris' contract expires. Tobias is a reliable player in any situation due to his professionalism and versatility, and at this point, a much more viable trade chip than Simmons. There are many ways to skin the cat, and parting with the positives of having Ben Simmons for a substandard solution to the team's problems is not, by any means, the best way.
There are many more permutations to Philadelphia's offseason that could take place. Still, to have a successful one, the Sixers need to start seeing this from the buyer's perspective, especially with reports now that the relationship between Simmons and the Sixers is broken and that there is no contact between the two parties.
Portland will not be willing to part with Damian Lillard when they do not know what they are getting with Simmons, and Washington will not part with Bradley Beal in this climate either. Philadelphia needs to start being honest with themselves in terms of the expectations for a deal involving Ben Simmons, and once they realize what they have, it might be better to keep him.