The preseason is officially underway, and Ben Simmons remains a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite the fines continuing to rack up, the three-time All-Star for the Sixers has stood firm on his holdout and does not plan to appear until his trade request is fulfilled.
One team that has been seen as a dark horse in the Simmons sweepstakes has been the Indiana Pacers. They popped up in rumors early in the summer and are back again. In a recent article for SNY, Ian Begley reported that Indiana is once again in the mix for the former number one overall pick.
League sources confirm that the Pacers are among the teams who have talked to the Philadelphia 76ers about a potential Ben Simmons trade. Caris LeVert was among the players brought up in those communications, per SNY sources.
LeVert, 26, played just 35 games for the Pacers last year after arriving early in the season as part of the James Harden trade. In those games, he averaged 20.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, and 4.9 APG.
At six-foot-six, LeVert is a do-it-all guard/wing that is at his best when looking to score. He has managed to increase his scoring output every year since he entered the league back in 2016.
While there is a lot to like about his game, there is one major blemish in LeVert’s resume. Even dating back to his college days, he has struggled to stay on the floor.
In his five seasons as a pro, LeVert has never played a full season and hasn’t played more than 50 games since 2017-18. The Sixers cannot afford to take a chance on an injury-prone player as they look to contend in the Eastern Conference.
It’s likely this deal did not get very far in conversations as Daryl Morey has kept the asking price high for Simmons. As a headline piece, LeVert might fall short of an All-Star caliber player due to his injury history.
There is also the business side of things to look at when dissecting hypothetical trades like this. LeVert is only under contract for the next two seasons. It’s doubtful Morey moves on from Simmons for a player that is under team control for such a short span.
With his size and skillset, LeVert might be an enticing target for Morey, but nowhere near enough to get a deal for Simmons over the finish line. Players like Malcolm Brogdon and TJ Warren would likely have to be added to the package to even spark Morey’s interest.
Due to all the uncertainties revolving LeVert, Morey and the Sixers are better off exploring other avenues. As far as non-All-Stars go, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum is arguably a better target than the Pacers’ guard.
Morey has remained patient all summer for a proper return for Simmons. Even with the holdout hanging over the team’s head, Morey does not appear to be budging. This reluctance to just get a deal done has bothered some but is the right approach if the Sixers don’t want to keep their window of contention open.