It looks like the Philadelphia 76ers are ready to talk to teams about Ben Simmons.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the 76ers have "opened up" trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams.
There's said to be a "high price threshold" for the 24-year-old, with the 76ers looking to acquire an All-Star-calibre player in return.
Sources: The Philadelphia 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding three-time All-Star Ben Simmons and have engaged with teams.- Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 13, 2021
Full details and more on Inside Pass at @TheAthletic: https://t.co/sdjV49uw3h
Simmons struggled in Philadelphia's second-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 NBA Playoffs, but he averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals per game during the regular season. In the process, he earned his third straight All-Star selection, made the All-Defensive First Team for the second time in his career and finished behind only Rudy Gobert in Defensive Player of the Year voting.
One of the league's best young players who is under contract until 2025, Charania adds that interest in Simmons "remains robust."
With that in mind, which teams are in a position to pursue Simmons?
Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers have become a popular trade destination for Simmons for a couple of reasons.
The first? The Blazers could undergo some changes this offseason following a disappointing playoff exit of their own.
Portland has been one of the league's best offensive teams over the last two seasons, but it ranked 27th in defensive efficiency in 2019-20 and 29th in 2020-21. Simmons might not solve all of their defensive issues, but the Blazers would benefit greatly from having someone as versatile and disruptive as him on their roster. On the other end of the court, pairing Simmons with Damian Lillard could unlock him as a Draymond Green-like point forward.
The second? It wouldn't be hard for the Blazers to match salary, as CJ McCollum ($30.9 million) will make almost as much as Simmons ($31.6 million) next season.
McCollum hasn't been named an All-Star to this point of his career, but he's developed into one of the league's better scorers at the guard position. He averaged a career-best 23.1 points per game this season, doing so on .458/.402/.812 shooting splits. While McCollum alone might not be enough to get the deal done given the talent and age difference between the two - would the addition of Robert Covington and draft compensation be enough? - he has the potential to complement Joel Embiid well, giving Philadelphia another playmaker and shooter in the backcourt.
Where it gets interesting is 76ers president Dary Morey "longs" for Lillard if he is to target any Blazer, per Marc Stein. There would be a lot of interest in Lillard around the league if the Trail Blazers ever made him available, but Simmons might be enough for the 76ers to at least get a seat at the table.
According to The Athletic's Sam Amick and John Hollinger, the 76ers plan to pursue Kyle Lowry in the offseason. Philadelphia isn't projected to have any cap space, but it could acquire Lowry in a sign-and-trade with Toronto.
As I detailed not long ago, there are a few packages the 76ers could put together for Lowry, including building one around Simmons.
For the 76ers, they'd acquire one of the league's most established point guards, albeit one who is entering the tail end of his career. Lowry wasn't named an All-Star for the first time since 2013-14, but he still averaged 17.2 points, 7.3 assists and 5.4 rebounds per game this season. Additionally, he was born in Philadelphia and attended Villanova, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he were interested in a homecoming.
For the Raptors, they run the risk of Lowry leaving the franchise in the offseason as an unrestricted free agency. Unless he's interested in returning to the franchise, signing and trading him would be their lost opportunity to get something in return for him. It's hard to imagine them getting a prospect much better than Simmons if the Raptors were to go down that road. As tricky as his fit would be offensively, it's fun to think of what Toronto's coaching and development staff could do with a player as talented and versatile as Simmons.
The Raptors could still pursue Simmons if Lowry does walk in free agency, but it would almost certainly require them to part ways with some combination of Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Raptors are one of the teams that have expressed interest in Simmons, per Marc Stein.
The Wizards crack this list because of Bradley Beal.
Beal has been among the league's leading scorers over the last two seasons, averaging 30.5 points per game in 2019-20 and 31.3 points per game in 2020-21. He earned the third All-Star selection of his career this season, as well as his first-ever All-NBA Third Team selection.
Not only does Beal tick the box of being a star, he's on a similar timeline as Embiid, 27, having recently celebrated his 28th birthday.
Beal signed a two-year extension with the Wizards in 2019, so he still has one more year remaining on his contract, plus a $37.3 million player option for 2022-23. He has remained loyal to the Wizards and hasn't given any indication that he would like to be traded yet, but similar to the Lillard situation, the 76ers would be in a position to make an appealing offer if that day ever comes.
In theory, the Wizards could trade Russell Westbrook to the 76ers to pair Beal with Simmons, but Westbrook doesn't make nearly as much sense for Philadelphia as Beal does.
Minnesota Timberwolves - According to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, the Timberwolves "will be in on" Simmons. Assuming Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards are off the table, D'Angelo Russell would likely be the centrepiece of a deal.
Golden State Warriors - The Warriors are always looking to make a splash and have both the salaries and assets to pursue a star. If they could pull it off, what would a team built around Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Simmons look like?
Chicago Bulls - It wouldn't be a surprise if the Bulls were interested in pairing Simmons with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic to create a Big Three, but if the 76ers are determined to get an All-Star-calibre player in return for Simmons, Chicago probably isn't an option unless it is willing to give up LaVine.
Indiana Pacers - Another team that has reportedly expressed interest in Simmons. The Pacers could build an interesting package around Malcolm Brogdon and/or Caris LeVert.
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