Ben Simmons Trade Odds: What League Intel Says About 76ers Star’s Possible Destination
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ben Simmons.
Ben Simmons is not having a great week.
After a tough season for most players, Simmons absolutely melted down in the conference semifinals, not attempting a field goal in the fourth quarter of the final four games of the series.
Ben Simmons 4th quarter this series:
Game 1: 2-2 FG
Game 2: 0-0 FG
Game 3: 1-1 FG
Game 4: 0-0 FG
Game 5: 0-0 FG
Game 6: 0-0 FG
Game 7: 0-0 FG
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) June 21, 2021
Simmons passed up a dunk, later saying he thought Danilo Gallinari would block him from behind, instead attempting a pass to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled and only made one of two free throws.
After the game, Joel Embiid, Simmons’ teammate for five years, threw him under the bus.
"I don't know how to say it – but I thought the turning point was we had an open shot, we missed and we made one free throw."
—Joel Embiid on the Sixers' Game 7 loss vs. the Hawks pic.twitter.com/wDsw1gVZP0
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 21, 2021
His coach, Doc Rivers, didn’t pass up the opportunity to question him, either.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers was asked postgame if Ben Simmons can be the point guard on a championship team.
"I don't know the answer to that right now," Rivers said.
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) June 21, 2021
76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey tried to douse the burning embers of Simmons’ trade value, talking about the team’s approach and faith in Simmons, and Doc Rivers doing his part the next day by talking about a plan to “fix” Simmons.
As a result, DraftKings has posted odds on where Simmons will play to start next season.
So let’s dive into the issue and see if we can find value.
Here’s the bad stuff:
He can’t shoot. At all.
Simmons shot 25-of-73 (34%) from the free-throw line in this year’s playoffs. That is unconscionably bad, so bad that the Hawks freely went to hack-a-Ben and made it a viable strategy.
Not only that but Simmons’ mindset is pretty clearly broken. He admitted after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to Atlanta that his priority in the offseason is to get his mind right.
So what else?
Well, that’s it. That’s literally it. Simmons is an elite passer, an elite defender, has a good feel for the game and shot 67% at the rim. He’s a great player but in the playoffs, if you have a discernible weakness, it will be exploited to its furthest extent by any coach worth his weight.
So you have to…
A. Get to a point where he can have the confidence to dunk the ball, and…
B. Find a role for him where he can thrive at the things he’s good at.
Now, based on a few things, there’s a reason to think the Sixers are appropriately priced at -125 to retain Simmons.
“When has Daryl Morey ever traded an asset at its lowest point?” one longtime league source asked. “Chris Paul, maybe, but his hands were tied on multiple fronts. Unless [Embiid] makes it clear he wants him gone, he’ll try and rehab his value. Otherwise, you’re selling at the lowest point.”
“His contract is the issue,” one executive remarked. “I think he’s a really good player, but imagine trying to sell your owner on $40 million in a few years on a guy who just flamed out like that? A former No. 1 pick with that skillset, who’s that good at so many things, you wouldn’t have trouble, but $35-million-plus per year for multiple years? That gets a lot tougher.”
“[Ben Simmons’ agency] Klutch has to be considered in this,” one league industry expert said. “If that’s not the best place for their guy, they usually make something happen.”
The Sixers do have some options if they choose to stick it out and at least rehab his value on the market a bit. Tyrese Maxey showed a lot as a rookie and with another year could become the on-ball playmaker they badly need next to Embiid and Tobias Harris with Seth Curry spacing the floor.
Between Embiid openly pinning the series loss on him and his coach not sticking up for him while talking about having a “plan” for him, it’s not unreasonable to think that Simmons might be as done with Philly as they are with him. Finding a suitable trade partner, however, may be difficult.
Too often the discussion around trade concepts revolves around “fit” and exciting championship combinations and not enough around contracts required to complete deals and existing relationships.
Just like in any business, there are existing relationships that influence trades. Thunder president of basketball operations Sam Presti and Morey have done multiple deals. Morey has existing relationships with members of the Boston Celtic (+1500) front office.
If a deal is constructed with Washington, it could potentially be a three-way deal. Nuggets executive Tim Connelly has ties to the Wizards. That isn’t to say Denver would be interested in Simmons — it’s unlikely they would be after adding Aaron Gordon at the deadline — but it’s an example of how these deals can form.
That’s also not to say that relationships are everything; if the right deal is out there, both teams will agree to it. But given both executive’s history, I wouldn’t count on a Utah deal for Simmons.
Morey made deals with former Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak but hasn’t been as active with Rob Pelinka. However, Morey worked with Pelinka on contracts for James Harden, Eric Gordon and Trevor Ariza in the past.
As far as Simmons’ market, there’s definitely a sizable section of league personnel who don’t feel he’s as bad as has been painted in recent days.
“[He’s] not as bad as people make him out to be, worse than his contract. Probably needs to get traded to Portland or Chicago,” one source said.
Four executives polled on whether they believe Simmons was worth taking the risk on all answered in the affirmative. However, all four, amusingly, said that their teams were not good fits either based on talent or contract for Simmons.
Portland (+450) is an obvious fit, with a deal centered around CJ McCollum. After another early playoff exit, there’s a lot of talk about roster changes. However, Neil Olshey remains in charge of basketball operations. Olshey drafted McCollum and there’s a league sense that he’s partial to the scoring guard, which may make negotiations difficult. Olshey told reporters after the season ended that essentially the problem wasn’t the roster. (The comments came after firing coach Terry Stotts; the Blazers are currently interviewing multiple candidates.)
The Thunder (+1200) can absorb Simmons’ salary, have Kemba Walker to trade, which takes up most of the salary exchange and provides the Sixers with a scoring guard, and have picks to make up any difference in value (if there is any). However, there was a widespread belief among league sources polled that any deal would probably result in OKC being the one wanting picks to take on Simmons’ contract, and then inevitably dealing Simmons for a pick after rehabbing his value.
However, would Simmons be invigorated on a rebuilding team in Oklahoma City? Is that viable? Can Oklahoma City literally have all the picks in all the world? Oh, by the way the Thunder already own the 2025 Sixers first-round pick from the Danny Green trade.
Chicago is currently listed at +1200. Whether a deal would include Zach LaVine or instead focus on other pieces, potentially Coby White, isn’t known. Even before that, it’s not known if Chicago genuinely has interest in Simmons, though his fit as a defensive upgrade and playmaker next to LaVine and Nikola Vucevic makes a great deal of sense.
Golden State (+1000) is interesting, but the quiet-part-out-loud is that it would require the Warriors moving on from Draymond Green. I asked one exec outside Golden State about that idea.
“My impulse is they would say no, but (Warriors owner Joseph) Lacob is so aggressive about big moves, especially after moving to San Francisco. But there’s no way the Sixers get the better end of a deal that involves trading Simmons even if Green goes to a third team,” they said.
The Rockets are listed at +1500, but I would rule them out. Owner Tilman Fertitta never wanted to deal James Harden to Philly for Simmons without asking for way more from Morey because he didn’t want to be seen as losing a deal with his former head of basketball operations. That’s among the worst kept secrets in the NBA these days. It’s unlikely that would be viable with Simmons’ value considerably worse and the Rockets’ return assets equally worse.
The field is currently +800 and there’s absolutely value there as often surprise deals come out of nowhere. I would rank the odds, in terms of value: