NBA

Blazers a team for 76ers to keep eye on as Damian Lillard longs for Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons Damian Lillard Blazers 76ers
Damian Lillard (right) reportedly wants to play alongside Ben Simmons (left).
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers are in the throes of change after dismissing president and general manager Neil Olshey — and the Philadelphia 76ers could stand to cash in down the road.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Sam Amick, Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard has expressed his interest in playing alongside Ben Simmons, who has yet to appear in a game for the 76ers this season and most likely won’t step on an NBA court until he’s playing for another team.

The Sixers and Blazers reportedly had talked about a deal involving Simmons earlier this year. In one instance, Philadelphia asked for guard CJ McCollum and three first-round picks in return for Simmons — which the Blazers ultimately declined.

But with the Blazers now looking for a new president and general manager, the Sixers could at least re-visit the idea of trading Simmons and see if they can get a suitable haul in return.

The Blazers could certainly use the defensive help that Simmons provides as one of the top shutdown guards in the NBA. Only five teams in basketball have allowed more points per game than Portland’s average of 111.7 per night.

If McCollum is still on the table, the Sixers would benefit from his services. The 30-year-old shooting guard has averaged 21.8 points per game over the last seven years alongside Lillard while shooting nearly 40% from three-point range.

That’s the kind of offensive threat needed in the backcourt that could suitably stretch the floor for Joel Embiid and further unlock Philadelphia’s promise as a legitimate contender in the Eastern Conference.

Given Simmons’ All-Star resume — despite a lack of offensive production — and his control through the 2024-25 season, the 76ers will obviously be looking for draft capital, as well, in return. And if the Blazers are desperate to keep Lillard content and in Portland, they might be willing to give up a considerable amount to ensure their superstar stays.

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