A lot has and will change about the 76ers over the next few weeks and months. They have been at the center of any and almost all trade talks, but is the price too high for some of the potential returns? Should the Sixers bail on Ben Simmons for an aging veteran? My answer may surprise you.
Sixers Trade Rumors Swirling
With a new coach in Doc Rivers and a new President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey, the Sixers are one of the most watched teams in the NBA when it comes to trade rumors. They have been speculated as suitors for James Harden (highly unlikely, sorry, Chris Broussard) and there was a trade thrown around about sending Simmons to the Nuggets for a trio of players. This is almost as equally unlikely.
The problems with these ideas are two-fold. One, no one in their right mind would trade James Harden for Simmons. The Rockets would laugh if that deal was ever presented to them. Harden is one of, if not the best scorer in the NBA, they aren’t going to trade him for a package that centers around a point forward who can’t shoot, even if he is locked up long term.
Secondly, the Nuggets deal is unworkable because Jerami Grant is about to sign for big money somewhere this offseason and it would be incredibly stupid of him to opt in to his player option (a key to this deal working) instead of signing long term with the Nuggets, or another team. Obviously, he could sign long term in Philly too, but that is a huge risk for him and the 76ers.
On top of that, the idea that the Nuggets would depart with Grant, Michael Porter Jr, and Gary Harris for Simmons is also farfetched. When healthy, Harris is a very good two-way guard and Porter is a potential star. Grant is also blossoming into a starting-caliber player. That’s a lot to give up for Denver. Not impossible, but it would be a big risk for them and a huge haul for Philly.
However, there is one player that trade rumors have died down on that could be the missing piece the Sixers need to pair with Joel Embiid and win a championship.
The 76ers Should Trade for Chris Paul
The 76ers are backed into a corner. No matter if Rivers coming in improves the team by itself or not, this team has some bad contracts. Tobias Harris and Al Horford are making a combined $63 million next year which is the GDP of some third world countries. Horford can’t play on the floor at the same time as Embiid, and while Harris is a reliable third scoring option, he is a very overpaid third option.
The Sixers would love to offload one of those deals in any trade, but the odds of them getting back more than 60-80 cents on the dollar for either player is very close to zero. However, if they are able to package Simmons with one of those players (probably Horford) they could get back a Chris Paul from the Thunder.
If the Sixers were willing to sweeten the pot with the 21st pick in the draft, I think they could flip Simmons and either Horford or Harris for Paul maybe a Steven Adams. If not, the Sixers could offer Simmons, the 21st pick and Josh Richardson for Paul and then be able to hold on to Harris and subsequently flip Horford in another deal.
A starting lineup that includes Paul, Joel Embiid and Harris is a better option for Philly than the one with Simmons. Furkan Korkmaz, Matisse Thybulle, and Shake Milton have proven to be valuable wings to put around those three players, and it would give the Sixers a ton of shooting ability, which they lacked when Simmons was on the court.
Could the Sixers Keep Simmons?
Right now I’d put the chance of the Sixers trading Simmons as the underdog. Rivers and Morey have said since being hired that they think the combo of Simmons and Embiid can work, which could be a smokescreen, or it could be legit. We just won’t know until the trade moratorium is lifted in the next few weeks.
Simmons is locked up long term and I think the Sixers’ first concern this shortened offseason is trading Horford, who obviously doesn’t fit. They don’t need to rush to trade Simmons after he signed a $170 million extension last year. If he still doesn’t work with Embiid this season, they can trade Simmons later and still get a good return for him. The question though for the Sixers is whether they can get a good enough, or great deal for Simmons now, compared to the returns later, or the returns if they hold and don’t trade him. It’s a tough question for the Sixers’ new regime, but it is one we should have answers to somewhat soon. Stay tuned.