Rumor: One key obstacle to Damian Lillard-Ben Simmons duo with Blazers
Ben Simmons wants a trade away from the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Portland Trail Blazers have been a popular rumored destination. A Simmons-CJ McCollum swap makes a good amount of sense given the circumstances, but apparently there are some within the Blazers organization unsure of a Simmons-Damian Lillard pairing, according to Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Here’s the thought process, per Mizell:
“I wrote 2,000 words on why I would trade [C.J.] McCollum for Simmons in a heartbeat. I love the fit for both teams. However, I’ve been told by some within the Blazers organization that they are not sure how well Simmons and Lillard would fit together. Simmons wants to play the Magic Johnson role, which requires having the ball in his hands. Well, that’s Lillard’s job. I could see Lillard playing off the ball more often but in the end, it’s his team and he will want the ball the majority of the time. That would force Simmons to play a role he isn’t used to.”
While it’s true that both Simmons and Lillard need the ball a lot, Lillard can definitely succeed playing off the ball given his shooting prowess. Simmons would have to find ways to be more effective playing off the ball, especially during Dame Time, but that’s not out of the realm of possibility.
A big reason why a McCollum-Simmons swap makes sense for the Blazers is because of the defensive upgrade. Portland was one of the worst defenses in the NBA last season. Perhaps there would be a slight downgrade offensively by swapping McCollum for Simmons, but the disgruntled Sixers star would help the Blazers’ defense immensely and make them a more balanced team. That’s what they need to become a legitimate title contender.
It’s understandable to have some concerns about a Lillard-Simmons fit, but the upside is worth the gamble after so many years of coming short in the playoffs.