After struggling in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and watching his 1st seed Philadelphia 76ers get knocked out in game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, Ben Simmons’ stock began to plummet.
In the immediate aftermath of that final game, questions and concerns were raised surrounding the Sixers, and moreover, Simmons. Even Shaq called the Australian out for what he considered less than sufficient effort and spirit.
“If he was in my locker room I would’ve knocked his ass out.” 😳
Shaq didn’t hold back talking about Simmons after Game 7.
(via @NBAonTNT) pic.twitter.com/Zx9cX6TL11
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 21, 2021
Since then, Simmons has been the subject of criticism and rumors, and on Tuesday reports confirmed that the Sixers were open to discussing Ben Simmons in trade talks. Though, they indicated they would want an all star caliber player in return.
Sources: The Philadelphia 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding three-time All-Star Ben Simmons and have engaged with teams.
Full details and more on Inside Pass at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/sdjV49uw3h
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 13, 2021
On the same day, the Sacramento Kings were listed as one of the teams interested in pursuing the 24 year old.
Report: Teams with interest in Ben Simmons;
“Toronto is also said to have expressed interest.”
(via @TheSteinLine) pic.twitter.com/7EAARymKQI
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) July 13, 2021
Previous reports have suggested that acquiring Ben Simmons was a “pipe dream” for Sacramento. For there to be serious discussions, Philadelphia wants to see either three first round picks or a rising star like Haliburton or Fox included in the trade package. And Sacramento has already signaled that Fox is off the table.
Latest on Kings-76ers trade talks: The Sacramento Bee has confirmed the Kings have expressed interest in three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. De'Aaron Fox is off the table, but maybe there's another path to a deal between Monte McNair and Daryl Morey.https://t.co/fwOsbLioRV
— Jason Anderson (@JandersonSacBee) July 14, 2021
So is pursuing Simmons worth it? And is it doable?
Pros for Pushing for Simmons
There are many upsides to acquiring Ben Simmons even if the Kings were to lose multiple draft picks or a key player.
Regardless of who or what the Kings give up to acquire Simmons, Sacramento would instantly have a three-time all star who turns just 25 this month. The Kings haven’t had an all star on their roster since DeMarcus Cousins and having one would help this team make a run for the playoffs as they seem one star away from taking that next step.
Even as Simmons ran the point in Philly, he would most likely move to the four in Sacramento. There, he would be a dynamic fit along with Fox running the floor, and the two could be an instant force to be reckoned with.
Simmons also brings great defensive ability as he often finishes the season among the league’s best defenders and is capable of guarding multiple positions effectively. This defensive presence would be be critical for the Kings who, last season, posted one the of the worst defensive ratings of all time.
Such a noteworthy addition could also feasibly attract bigger names to Sacramento. Having an all star on the roster paired up with a soon-to-be all star could garner the attention necessary to attract lucrative free agents.
Plus, Simmons has four more years left on his contract, so even if he doesn’t initially want to be here (just like Chris Webber, Mitch Richmond, and probably everyone else traded to Sac), he’d be cemented here regardless and would hopefully come around to valuing the mid-market franchise.
Of course the biggest downsides for acquiring Ben Simmons would be the cost to get him. No matter how you slice it, the Kings will most likely have to give up several first round picks and/or Tyrese Haliburton.
Regardless of his postseason performance, Simmons is no doubt a great player, but with the upside of Haliburton or the players they could draft with those picks, is he really worth the swap?
Nothing would be more painful than watching Haliburton traded for Simmons and witnessing the former first overall pick not working out in Sacramento as Haliburton goes on to accomplish great things in another uniform, which we all know he’s capable of.
There are fears of Simmons’ work ethic as well. Judging based off stats alone, he has shown little improvement over the years and still struggles mightily with shooting the ball.
Pairing Fox and Simmons together would kill floor spacing considering the Kings most likely lose Haliburton, Buddy, or both in the process of acquiring Ben.
Simmons’ contract is pretty hefty, too, as he signed a 5-year, $177M contract that will end after the 2024-25 season. This would strap the Kings finances further with Fox locked into a max deal as well.
There are three potential trade packages the Kings could offer in order to make a serious run for Simmons.
Kings receive: Ben Simmons
76ers receive: Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, 2021 9th overall pick, future first round pick
This first trade scenario would include Bagley, Buddy, as well as this year’s first round pick and a future first round pick for Simmons. The Sixers would receive a great three point shooter in Hield which is something Daryl Morey covets, a project piece in Bagley, and the requisite draft picks needed to acquire Simmons.
However, without a surefire rising star included, this is more of a best case scenario, and maybe even the embodiment of the “pipe dream.”
Although this sounds like a fair deal, I’m hesitant to believe that the Sixers would accept draft picks over an all star caliber player. The Sixers are built to win now and swapping Buddy and Bagley for Simmons will only set Philadelphia backwards.
Kings receive: Ben Simmons
76ers receive: Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley, Tyrese Haliburton, 2021 9th overall pick
A trade scenario that could realistically do the job would be sending Hield, Bagley, Haliburton, and this year’s 9th overall pick to Philadelphia.
Adding Haliburton to the mix would be even more enticing to Morey as he would get the added element of a potential all star caliber player in addition to keeping a high draft pick in the mix.
Losing Haliburton would be heartbreaking since he’s been one of the few bright spots this organization has seen in over a decade. However, he is undeniably a worthy asset, and should be considered as such in this business since he could potentially bring a versatile all star to Sacramento.
Haliburton could intrigue Philly considering he finished the year as a top rookie and already looks like a seasoned vet who can probably instantly takeover Ben Simmons’ point guard duties in the City of Brotherly Love.
Kings receive: Ben Simmons
Sixers receive: Kyle Lowry, Buddy Hield
Raptors receive: George Hill, Marvin Bagley, 2021 9th overall pick
There is one more trade, that I saw on Reddit posted by u/Agitated_Phrase, that looks like a win/win/win for all teams involved.
The Kings would receive Ben Simmons while giving up only Hield, Bagley, and this year’s first. Not a bad deal for Sacramento at all.
The Sixers receive that all star caliber player in Kyle Lowry as well as Buddy Hield who has been linked to many trade rumors with Philadelphia.
A now seemingly rebuilding Raptors team actually get something for Kyle Lowry, who is an unrestricted free agent, instead of watching him walk for nothing. They would acquire George Hill, a young piece in Bagley, and a high draft pick to help with their rebuild.
This deal would be contingent on Lowry accepting an offer for a sign and trade, but reason to believe is that Lowry grew up in Philly and would probably want to leave Toronto on good terms.
Accepting a contract in the $30M per year range to get traded to your hometown doesn’t seem like such a bad deal while assisting the franchise that helped put a ring on your finger.
It’s simple: Ben Simmons is seriously undervalued right now. Not often do you see a 24 year old who has been a three-time all star become available in trade talks, yet here we are.
There is little doubt that Simmons and Fox would thrive together in Sacramento and immediately become a playoff caliber team, but it is equally clear that acquiring the former first overall pick could cost the Kings the popular Tyrese Haliburton.
But that should not shut down the conversation— crossing your arms and saying ‘no’ for the mere reason Haliburton is included in the package insufficiently argues against the upside of the transaction. Simmons is an established star and will likely be a star in this league for years to come while less experienced players like Bagley, Haliburton, and future draft picks have not proven to be of that rare status.
With Morey’s and McNair’s connection from their days in Houston, Sacramento could very well be considered a serious contender for Simmons. He will certainly come at a cost, so McNair will have to decide whether a particular trade package that ships off Haliburton and/or picks comes with more upside than downsides.
This potentiality is, in fact, not a “pipe dream,” but some tough decisions will have to be made.