5 things happening in favor of Sixers’ Ben Simmons
Ever since the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Ben Simmons has been swarmed by critics. Although Simmons is still a star, things haven’t gone smoothly for him as of late. The postseason saw him register the most dismal performance of his career. Simmons registered a historically bad 34.2% mark on free throws, which is the worst in NBA history. Furthermore, the Philadelphia 76ers suffered an early playoff exit against the Atlanta Hawks.
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) June 21, 2021
Aside from disappointing Sixers fans, Simmons went on to disappoint his fans in Australia by sitting out the Tokyo Olympics. Citing his personal development, Simmons withdrew from the Olympic roster, passing on a golden opportunity to salvage a rough postseason performance.
Simmons made it known to the Sixers over the summer that he wanted a trade, and he held out at the start of training camp and the preseason. However, with no trade on the horizon, he’s back with Philly for now.
While this isn’t Simmons’ ideal situation, there are some things that are favoring him.
Silver linings for Sixers star Ben Simmons
Kyrie Irving’s COVID-19 Vaccine Debacle
The Nets entered training camp as the clear-cut favorite to win the championship this season. However, there’s drama going on with Kyrie Irving and his unwillingness to get vaccinated. With city-imposed vaccine mandates affecting San Fransisco and New York, Irving won’t be playing with the team until his circumstances change.
Kyrie Irving won't take the floor for the Nets in any capacity until he receives the COVID-19 vaccine or NYC's mandates change https://t.co/xnN0JSMmZr
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 12, 2021
Although the Nets still have plenty of firepower in the absence of Irving, his firm decision to reject the vaccine doesn’t favor the Nets’ locker room. Because of this, trading Irving for Ben Simmons is an enticing possibility.
The Sixers reportedly don’t have much interest in this trade right now, but this situation is fluid and things can change quickly. Furthermore, Kevin Durant allegedly isn’t going to “lose sleep” should the front office trade Irving.
Ultimately, suiting up for the Nets would be a jackpot for Simmons. With an All-Star crew, Simmons would have multiple options to thrive with thanks to his excellent playmaking. Being teammates with James Harden and KD wouldn’t require Simmons to score much, allowing him to hide his weakness.
For the Nets, it would also be a win-win situation. Having Simmons would give them another star who can theoretically fit seamlessly alongside the main stars. But more importantly, his availability is more ensured compared to Irving. Irving’s stint with the Nets has been a roller-coaster ride. He has only suited up for 74 games across two seasons due to nagging injuries. Irving also missed the last stretch of their playoff campaign in 2021 due to an ankle injury.
The Golden State Warriors have missed the playoffs in back-to-back years. However, with the return of 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson (at some point), the Dubs could be back to the postseason soon. Aside from getting their main core back together, the Warriors also have some young pieces to work with. The team has last year’s No. 2 pick in James Wiseman and this year’s lottery picks, Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
While the Warriors look like a formidable team, they could still add another star in Ben Simmons by trading away their young guns. The core of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, and Klay Thompson isn’t getting any younger. Although they can still contribute, they are now all over 30 years old. The time is ticking for the Warriors, and trading for Ben Simmons would allow them to make the most of their championship window.
Although Wiseman, Kuminga, and Moody have major potential, it’s still unknown how fast they’ll become major contributors. With Simmons, he’s already an established star who’d be alongside the Warriors’ Splash Brothers. Simmons’ playmaking would create more opportunities for Curry and Thompson to get hot. Furthermore, his elite defense would make the Warriors a more formidable squad with defensive stars in Iggy and Dray.
Unfortunately for Simmons, the Warriors have reportedly passed on Simmons after the Sixers’ huge asking price. In fact, Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined for tampering for talking about it.
Warriors owner Joe Lacob has been fined $50,000 for violating anti-tampering rule regarding comments on 76ers’ Ben Simmons.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 22, 2021
The Warriors have decided to stick with their future. However, the season can still bring some changes. If the stars align, it’s still possible for Simmons to land with Golden State.
John Wall’s Trade Request
Aside from Ben Simmons, another star reportedly on the move is John Wall. Wall recently made his comeback into the league after healing from an Achilles injury. He averaged 20.6 points and 6.9 assists per game with the Rockets last season. However, Houston displayed a lowly 17-55 record, including a historic 20-game losing steak.
Given the circumstances, Wall and the Rockets have agreed that he won’t play while the team tries to find a trade.
Rockets sources confirm that the franchise will work with John Wall to try to find a trade destination for him. Easier said than done with $91.7M over two seasons due to him. Wall doesn't have fit in Houston with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green as backcourt of present/future.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) September 14, 2021
The Rockets have a bright future with young guns like Christian Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., and second overall pick Jalen Green. Because of this, the addition of Simmons would give the Rockets a proven star to lead them into the future.
While landing Simmons in Houston wouldn’t automatically elevate them into a championship contender, they would have the potential to be a playoff team. But more importantly, this would give Simmons a fresh start. A fresh start is something that Simmons and his camp have wanted since demanding a trade. With a fresh start, Simmons could regain his confidence after a dismal postseason.
Blazers’ Hunt For A Second Star
With Damian Lillard’s loyalty to the franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t going to lose their star just yet. Lillard has been the face of Portland for years, but early playoff exits have been getting old. Lillard is 31 and wants to seriously compete for a championship, and it might be time to shake up the roster a bit to find a better second star than CJ McCollum.
The Blazers have been a popular destination when people talk about Ben Simmons trades, with McCollum being a player who could help Philly right now.
Dame wants to play with Ben Simmoms pic.twitter.com/kaPligEASg
— 🏀 (@dribblecity) September 2, 2021
No trade has happened, though, and the Blazers had a somewhat underwhelming free agency. Still, Lillard feels compelled to give Portland at least one more shot.
If the Blazers get off to a sluggish start, perhaps they get more aggressive in a pursuit of Simmons. The three-time All-Star would help improve Portland’s defense in a big way and would make them a more well-rounded team compared to what the Lillard and McCollum bring to the table as a star duo.
Of course, it’s worth noting that if the Blazers get off to a slow start, the Sixers will probably set their eyes on Dame instead of CJ in a Simmons trade. But either way, this is definitely a situation to monitor.
Sixers’ Open Arms
Despite Ben Simmons’ prior vow to never return to Philly, Doc Rivers maintained throughout the start of camp that the franchise wanted him back.
Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons informing the 76ers that he wants to be traded;
"I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back. And if we can, we're going to try to do that. pic.twitter.com/JeWoIE3W7U
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 22, 2021
The saga finally made progress when Simmons landed in Philadelphia on Monday, much to the surprise of the Sixers’ front office. With no trading partner to find, it looks like Simmons has decided to stay put in Philly for now.
Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has arrived in Philadelphia and took a Covid-19 test — as required by NBA protocol, sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 12, 2021
With a tarnished relationship between Simmons and the Sixers, it’s uncertain how the locker room atmosphere will be. Nonetheless, Rivers and MVP candidate Joel Embiid are willing to work with Simmons again after a disappointing playoff run.
Full Joel Embiid quote on what the locker room reaction would be if Ben Simmons returns. pic.twitter.com/Q8AlbDasjq
— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) October 12, 2021
Simmons still has a lot of basketball years ahead of him. Fortunately with the Sixers’ open arms, he still has a team to go back to that’s willing to work with him. Although it won’t be easy, especially with a Sixers fan base that likely won’t be so welcoming, Simmons will have all the motivation he needs to redeem himself in Philly if he decides he’s going to play.