It seems like we’re getting closer to a Ben Simmons trade.
Following months of little activity, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported on Monday that the 76ers are “ramping up their efforts to spark multi-team trade scenarios” to move the three-time All-Star. The timing of the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as trade talks surrounding Simmons were expected to pick up around Dec. 15 when the majority of players who signed contracts in the offseason become eligible to be traded.
Charania added that it’s “unclear” how much traction the 76ers have had with teams on any move, but ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported over the weekend that trade conversations on Simmons were “gathering momentum.”
◻️ Knicks, Lakers among group of teams interested in Ben Simmons
◻️ Hawks management set to receive contract extension; assistant GM Landry Fields likely being promoted to GM
◻️ Teams pursuing Pistons star Jerami Grant@ShamsCharania‘s Inside Pass ⤵️ https://t.co/6Yy3ClWhnV
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) December 13, 2021
We’ve looked before at which teams could make a move for Simmons before, but there are a few more teams that have entered the conversation since then.
Updated Ben Simmons trade destinations
The new teams
According to Charania, the Lakers and Knicks are among the teams interested in Simmons.
Fascinating as it would be to see Simmons and LeBron James on the same team, the Lakers face an uphill battle at making any trade for a player of Simmons caliber. It’s well known that the 76ers are looking for a “top 25 player” for Simmons. If we assume James and Anthony Davis are off the table for what should be obvious reasons, the only remaining player on their roster remotely close to being in the top 25 conversation is Russell Westbrook.
At this stage of his career, does Westbrook move the needle enough for the 76ers? Probably not, but 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey would know better than most, as he traded for Westbrook when he was calling the shots in Houston.
Talen Horton-Tucker could draw interest around the league, but he’s not nearly enough to headline a deal for Simmons. (Also, Horton-Tucker isn’t eligible to be traded until Jan. 15.)
The Knicks, who have struggled so far this season and could be looking to shake things up, have a little bit more flexibility than the Lakers do — New York has a more varied collection of salaries, plus some interesting young prospects on its roster — but they’re limited by Derrick Rose not being trade eligible until Jan. 15 and Julius Randle not being trade eligible until Feb. 3.
Rose’s contract ($13.4 million) would help match salaries in a trade for Simmons, and he has proven himself to be an impact player off the bench. Randle’s numbers have taken a hit this season, but he earned both an All-Star and All-NBA selection last season.
The teams we’ve known about
Charania also mentioned the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers, Kings, Pacers and Cavaliers among the teams interested in Simmons.
You can read more about what it would take for the Timberwolves, Trail Blazers and Kings to get Simmons and how he’d fit on each team here.
NBA insider Marc Stein mentioned the Pacers as being one of the “known suitors” for Simmons early in the process, and they’ve been in the news since The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Bob Kravitz reported that they are “receptive in trade dialogue with rival teams centered on potentially moving” Caris LeVert and either Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner.
With Joel Embiid and Andre Drummond on the roster, the 76ers don’t have much of a need for Turner, but perhaps they’d be interested in LeVert or Sabonis in some capacity.
The Cavaliers were another early “known suitor” for Simmons. Cleveland has been much more competitive than expected this season, led by its young core of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. On Sept. 23, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported that the Cavaliers don’t have any “untouchables” on their roster, though Mobley and Garland were “closest to that designation.” Is that still the case?
Worth noting: Collin Sexton, who averaged a career-best 24.3 points per game last season, is out for the rest of the regular season with a torn meniscus. He’ll be a restricted free agent in the offseason.
The Warriors deserve mention, only because they have the assets to make a big move.
Three other teams to keep an eye out for: San Antonio, Boston and Brooklyn.
NBA insider Marc Stein reported that Simmons would “welcome the opportunity to play for [Gregg] Popovich.” The Spurs don’t have a top 25 player, but they do have Dejounte Murray, who is making another leap this season, plus a number of rotational players such as Keldon Johnson, Derrick White and Devin Vassell.
As for the Celtics, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported a month ago that they had “engaged in conversations with the 76ers” revolving around Simmons. At the time, talks between the two teams were said to have been “fluid with no traction as of yet.” With the Celtics still hovering around .500, could there be more urgency to make a deal?
Similar to the Warriors, the Nets deserve mention only because the Kyrie Irving situation still isn’t resolved. More on why an Irving-Simmons swap would and wouldn’t work here.