Ben Simmons to the San Antonio Spurs is the perfect trade no one is talking about
Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers want a divorce but can’t find a lawyer to facilitate the transaction. On Simmons’ side, there are plenty of teams with reported interest in him, but there’s one that’s an under-the-radar landing spot. That destination is the San Antonio Spurs.
The Spurs are in a funky spot. They moved on from LaMarcus Aldridge last season and saw DeMar DeRozan, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay depart via free agency this offseason. That’s a smooth offensive big man, the team’s offensive focal point, a veteran sniper and defender and a front-court scorer.
For the most part, the Spurs’ roster is now one with a bevy of youngsters and some veteran front-court players who will presumably assume complementary roles in head coach Gregg Popovich’s offense. Where does Ben Simmons fit in this picture?
The team’s backcourt rotation includes Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassell, Bryn Forbes, Tre Jones and the 2021 No. 12 overall draft pick Joshua Primo.
As is, the Spurs roster isn’t one that’s cracking the playoffs or one with a realistic roadmap to contention in the Western Conference within the next two years. They can afford to make an impact move in the backcourt (a la moving multiple individuals in that group).
Proposed Ben Simmons trade:
76ers receive: Dejounte Murray, Derrick White and San Antonio’s 2022 first-round draft pick
Spurs receive: Ben Simmons
Murray and White have each improved over their respective NBA careers, but neither has been the go-to scorer in the Spurs system. With the 76ers, they’d be secondary sources of offense alongside Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. Philadelphia also corrals an upcoming first-rounder, which could very well be a lottery selection.
The 76ers likely won’t get the king’s ransom for the former number one overall draft pick, but this trade yields a plausible return for their sake. They get a pair of productive and impactful guards to beef up their scoring and add depth. If all goes wrong, they can use Murray and/or White as part of another blockbuster trade.
Superficially speaking, this trade may seem forced for the Spurs. That said, it’s a deal geared more towards the long haul instead of the immediate future. Plus, what’s the Spurs’ ceiling with the bunch at hand? At best, maybe they sneak into the second play-in game. That’s not even a given, as they barely snuck into the contest last season with DeRozan, Mills and Gay present.
San Antonio selecting wings in the lottery portion of back-to-back NBA Drafts, as well as having a surplus of youth in their backcourt to begin with, opens the door for them to make a move of this magnitude.
Generally speaking, the 2021-22 Spurs are a developmental team. It’s about Johnson and Walker taking another step forward, Primo getting on the right track and Vassell finding his footing in the NBA. What enhances the likelihood of those three prospects materializing? The presence of a premier and cunning floor general.
Simmons’ shooting shortcomings and passive play in crunch time is well-documented. What’s not so referenced these days is how he literally does everything else well, which is why the 76ers are going to squeeze out as much value as humanly possible for him in a trade.
Simmons is as dangerous as anyone in the NBA when attacking the rack in the open court. He’s an effective, highlight reel facilitator who hits the boards and is a stout defender. How many 6-foot-11 basketball players can shut down guards? Simmons will find Johnson and Walker for easy buckets, enable Primo and Vassell to get clean looks from the perimeter and force teams to come up on him, as he’ll be the locomotive of the offense.
Keeping in mind that veteran shooters like Forbes and Doug McDermott and emerging big men like Jakob Poeltl and Drew Eubanks are in place, the Spurs would have a balanced rotation with upside.
Simmons can be himself and perhaps find himself as a scorer in San Antonio. It’s a system that prides itself on moving the ball and players being able to shoot. Albeit, he’s lacking in the scoring department, the team would be looking for Simmons to become more assertive with the ball in his hands, which he has shown an ability to do in glimpses.
Even with Murray and White gone, there are plenty of young guards who have the potential and surrounding to grow into reliable scorers. At the end of the day, that was going to have to happen with or without the pair of productive guards.
San Antonio would be retooling with Simmons as the centerpiece. As for next season, they strive to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and build an offensive rapport. Past next season, they can look to get active again on the trade market if a player of their liking becomes attainable.
Ben Simmons could be reborn on the San Antonio Spurs and help commence a new era of basketball in southern Texas.