Ben Simmons appears to be playing on borrowed time in Philadelphia.
As Shams Charania of The Athletic reports, NBA executives believe that Simmons will be traded. It’s just a matter of when.
While the 76ers have told teams they are comfortable bringing Simmons back for the 2021-22 season, rival executives believe it’s only a matter of when — not if — the All-Defensive team stalwart is moved.
So far, the 76ers have had “expansive discussions” with a handful of teams, including the Timberwolves and Raptors, as Charania reports. However, the 76ers haven’t been close to a deal yet; they’re still holding out to get the proper value for Simmons.
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The 76ers are looking for “an All-Star caliber player” in return for Simmons. That makes sense considering that Simmons is an All-Star and the Sixers are in win-now mode.
Philadelphia was among the suitors for James Harden before he was dealt to the Nets. Simmons was expected to be the centerpiece of the package that would return to the Rockets.
What are the Sixers looking for now with Harden unavailable? Charania reports that they are keeping an eye on Damian Lillard.
Philadelphia has its eyes set on Portland All-NBA guard Damian Lillard, sources say, but the Trail Blazers have fully focused on continuing to build around Lillard. As of now, Lillard is continuing to evaluate the Trail Blazers’ present and future and is slated to begin training camp with the organization.
Lillard averaged 28.8 points last season for the Blazers and has shot better than 39 percent from deep the past two seasons. He would certainly be a good fit for the 76ers, but they may have to wait to see whether he’s available.
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Why Ben Simmons is on the trade block
Simmons has played at a high level during the regular season. The 6-10 point guard has made three consecutive All-Star Games and has twice been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive first team. During those three seasons, he has averaged 16 points, eight rebounds 7.6 assists and 1.7 steals per game while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor.
That said, Simmons has had his share of shooting woes, especially during the postseason. Those problems came to a head in the 76ers’ loss against the Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He shot just 33.3 percent from the line during the series while attempting 6.4 free throws per game.
That affected him the whole series; he was reluctant to take shots for fear of getting fouled.
That’s why coach Doc Rivers was reluctant to say whether Simmons was the Sixers’ point guard of the future after the series.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said to reporters.
Now, it appears that the 76ers want to move on from Simmons. It just may take some time to do that effectively.