Ben Simmons has left an undeniable mark on the Philadelphia 76ers franchise. The 6-foot-11-inch Australian point guard made his NBA debut in the 2017-18 season, earning Rookie of the Year honors. Over the next three seasons, Simmons was named an All-Star all three times. Most importantly, the 76ers made the playoffs each of the four seasons that Simmons has played in Philadelphia so far. After four straight seasons of finishing 14th or 15th in the Eastern Conference, the 76ers have become contenders once again.

Of course, Simmons hasn’t carried the entire workload of bringing the 76ers back to relevancy. Most of the credit usually goes to superstar center Joel Embiid, who played 31 games during the 2016-17 season before being available more consistently over the past four seasons. But the keyword is more consistently, as the 7-foot Cameroonian big man has battled foot and other lower body injuries over his young NBA career. While there’s little debate that Embiid is the more dominant player, Simmons availability as a key piece of the 76ers core has played a huge role in Philadelphia’s resurgence.

However, the Simmons-Embiid duo hasn’t been able to connect for a deep playoff run, failing to reach the Eastern Conference Finals in each of their four playoff appearances. Even with Jimmy Butler on the roster, the furthest Philadelphia has gone in the postseason with Simmons is Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals. After earning the top seed in the East during the 2020-21 season, the 76ers fell to the Atlanta Hawks in seven games in this year’s playoffs.

Philadelphia could easily run things back with a similar roster, but a major move is being pondered: could the 76ers trade away their unique point guard?

Simmons just finished the first season of a five-year maximum salary contract with the 76ers. His base salary will rise with the league’s salary cap each season, from $30.6 million last season all the way to $40.3 million in 2024-25, the final year of the contract. Any potential trade partner for Simmons’ services would need to have sufficient funds and cap space available over the next four seasons.

Personally, I think it may be difficult for the 76ers to find a suitor that values Simmons as much as Philadelphia does. Getting an All-Star caliber player in return could prove particularly tricky. Why give up your own All-Star for Simmons, who comes with a unique play style that might not fit every NBA offense?

But for the right team, at the right price, Simmons could be an integral part of a championship roster. Here are five potential landing spots for the 76ers point guard.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Before the news broke that Simmons was officially on the table for trade offers, the Minnesota Timberwolves were reportedly interested in the guard’s services. But the asking price of an All-Star caliber player might be too high for Minnesota, especially if D’Angelo Russell is off the table. Karl Anthony-Towns and Anthony Edwards would also be off limits, leaving few options for a suitable trade between these two teams. Minnesota also doesn’t hold a single pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, stretching tradeable assets even thinner.

On paper, Simmons and Towns could replicate the success that Simmons and Embiid found in Philadelphia. If the 76ers could somehow pry Russell away from the Timberwolves, they would gain a guard capable of spacing the floor with his shooting. For Minnesota, the shift from Russell to Simmons could result in a more fundamental, pick-and-roll-based offense.

Cleveland Cavaliers

While a trade between Philadelphia and the Cleveland Cavaliers currently seems unlikely, it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility. The Cavaliers are already floating the idea of trading young stud Colin Sexton. Cleveland also has a vested interest in getting Kevin Love’s contract off their books so they can enter rebuild mode with ample cap space. Flipping Love’s massive cap hit for a player that can make an immediate impact on the court (Simmons) could definitely kick start such a rebuild.

The 76ers would likely be intrigued by 22-year-old Colin Sexton, a shoot-first guard who has increased his scoring output and field goal percentage each of his three seasons in the NBA. But taking on Love’s contract while the franchise is in win-now mode might be a deal breaker for Philadelphia. Love is under contract for two more seasons, due $31.3 million and $28.9 million over the next two seasons. While Love isn’t a complete scrub on the floor, and having the power forward on the court with Embiid could be an interesting prospect, the 76ers would probably be turned off by the veteran’s price tag.

Dallas Mavericks

From the 76ers standpoint, this would be a high-risk, high-reward scenario. Giving up a point guard who has ran your offense for four seasons, in exchange for the oft-injured Kristaps Porzingis could go horribly. But if the stars align perfectly, Porzingis and Embiid could combine to create one of the scariest frontcourts the league has ever seen.

Porzingis is reportedly unhappy with his role in Dallas, making himself a potential trade piece. The 7-foot-3-inch Latvian unicorn was named an All-Star once in 2018 before missing an entire season due to an ACL tear. Porzingis only appeared in 43 games last season, but remained dominant when on the court, averaging nearly a double-double and at least 20.0 points per game over the past two seasons.

Philadelphia would probably want another asset to make this a fair trade, since the Mavericks would be receiving a much safer investment in Simmons. Simmons and budding star Luka Doncic could make an interesting duo as Dallas continues to ascend in the Western Conference standings year-over-year.

Golden State Warriors

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith thinks acquiring Ben Simmons would put the Golden State Warriors back on top of the league: and he might not be wrong. Though Simmons and Warriors forward Draymond Green have similar playing styles, getting younger and savvier with Simmons might do wonders for Golden State. But what would Philadelphia receive in return?

Trade packages would likely be centered around two of the following three players: Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and James Wiseman. A straight up Simmons for Green deal wouldn’t make much sense for the 76ers, as their offense would be much less dynamic without Simmons running the point. Again, Green and Simmons have similar playing styles and builds, but Simmons is more agile and can be the primary ball handler. Green works better in a complementary role, and having Green and Embiid as your two best players doesn’t seem like a winning formula in today’s NBA.

If the Warriors were willing to part with Green, who has been a key piece of Golden State’s winning culture, and Andrew Wiggins, then the 76ers may be inclined to listen. Wiggins can play at a borderline All-Star level, and Green has been an All-Star and instrumental part of NBA Championships. If the 76ers can turn Simmons into two quality players, it would certainly be a deal worth exploring.

Portland Trailblazers

No, the Portland Trailblazers aren’t giving up Damian Lillard for Ben Simmons. But shotting guard C.J. McCollum could offer a rare chance for a one-for-one NBA trade. McCollum has never been named an All-Star, but he’s been right on the cusp for each of the the majority of the past six seasons. Each season, he’s averaged 20.8 points per game or more, posting a career-high 23.1 points last season along with 4.7 assists per game, another career-high. McCollum would certainly shake up Philadelphia’s offense, giving up a ball-handling point guard for a trigger-happy shooting guard (McCollum averaged 18.8 shots and 8.9 three-point attempts per game last season.)

On paper, Simmons and McCollum seem to be close in on-court value, with the current Trailblazers guard offering more points and outside shooting while the incumbent Philadelphia guard shares the ball more and offers more defensive skills. McCollum is five years older than Simmons, but would come with a slightly cheaper contract. McCollum’s three-year contract extension kicks in next season, paying the 29-year-old $30.9 million, $33.3 million, and $35.8 million over the next three years. It would be a small amount of savings for Philadelphia, but if they view McCollum as close enough to an equal asset to Simmons, any additional financial flexibility could be benefical.

Conclusion: Will the 76ers Trade Ben Simmons?

At the current asking price, I do think it’s unlikely the 76ers find a fair trade for Simmons this offseason. It can’t hurt to test the markets and see what other teams might offer, but my money would be on Ben Simmons being the starting point guard for the 76ers for the fifth consecutive season in 2021-22.

Out of the potential deals and landing spots, I think acquiring D’Angelo Russell from the Timberwolves, Colin Sexton from the Cavaliers, or C.J. McCollum from the Trailblazers would have the biggest immediate impact for the 76ers. I’m also intrigued by the idea of bringing Kristaps Porzingis to Philadelphia, but the Mavericks would have to do more to make such a high-risk trade worthwhile.

Ben Simmons might not be the best shooter in the league, but what he brings to the court for the 76ers is more valuable than many fans realize. The 76ers are in no position to make a hasty trade, and should stand firm on their intentions: not trading Simmons unless they receive an All-Star or All-Star-caliber player in return. Philadelphia is in win-now mode, and can’t afford to go backwards to move forwards. They either trade Simmons for a high-level player, or keep him, because like it or not, Simmons is one of the most valuable players in the league today: at least to the 76ers.

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