The Philadelphia 76ers have never stopped looking for a potential trade partner to unload the malcontent that is Ben Simmons. Now, this week provides another opportunity to find the right deal.
Wednesday will see another 19% of the league’s players become eligible to be traded this season, increasing that number league-wide from 65% to 84%, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that seven teams have shown interest in Simmons, who has not appeared for the 76ers this season after holding out for most of training camp and then alerting the organization that he was not mentally ready to suit up for the Philadelphia club.
The seven interested parties are the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
He is getting help from personal mental health specialists and has given the 76ers permission to allow a team therapist to speak with his personal therapist, per Charania.
Sixers president Daryl Morey won’t likely come down from his high asking price, which includes an All-Star caliber player and multiple first-round draft picks. After all, Simmons is a three-time All-Star at the age of 25, one of the elite defensive guards in the NBA — though his offensive game has been a liability in Philadelphia — and is under team control through the 2024-25 season.
The Knicks suddenly find themselves in a point-guard quandary after Kemba Waker — a hometown product who was exalted upon his return to New York just a few months ago — was dropped from the playing rotation by head coach Tom Thibodeau.
It has forced the Knicks to rely on a rotation of Alec Burks, Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley. They even turned to rookie Quentin Grimes for his first-ever start on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Simmons would certainly fit Thibodeau’s need for a defensive stalwart that could reel things back in for a Knicks team whose league-leading defense from last season is now just a mediocre unit amidst a 7-14 stretch of play.
The Knicks also have the draft capital the 76ers are interested in, potentially possessing as many as four first-round picks over the next two years.
The Blazers also continue to loom as a potential trade option with Damian Lillard continuing to express a desire to play alongside Simmons. Portland’s front office is in the throes of change after firing its general manager and president, Neil Olshey, last week.
Should the new regime be a bit more willing to part with the likes of CJ McCollum and some draft picks, the Blazers should catapult toward the top of potential suitors.
Out in Los Angeles, the Lakers are a surprising name to appear on the list of interested parties considering they don’t have the financial flexibility to swing a trade for Simmons with a core of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook — all untouchable — making big-time money. But the 2020 NBA champions are looking to make a sizable shape up amidst a disappointing start to the season and Simmons would certainly do just that.