At about the 20-game mark, NBA franchises tend to do a self-evaluation. Are they one piece away? Are they better or worse than expected? Is the draft lottery increasingly appealing?
The answers will dictate each team's path in negotiations as trade season semi-officially begins Dec. 15, when most recently signed free agents become eligible to be dealt. The trade deadline isn't until Feb 10, but it's never too early to start forecasting.
Philadelphia 76ers: Simmons Resolution?
Will the Sixers get a Ben Simmons deal done in the coming months? Maybe not, per Sam Amick of The Athletic, citing a source with the team who said, "This is like a multiyear thing."
But that may be posturing. Heading into the season, Philadelphia had minimal leverage with Simmons refusing to play while under a long-term, sizable contract and the 29 other teams sitting with a perfect 0-0 record. At the 20-game mark, others are facing their own issues.
Kyrie Irving has yet to suit up for the Brooklyn Nets, unwilling to get vaccinated. Neil Olshey, the Trail Blazers president of basketball operations and general manager, is "under investigation for workplace misconduct," per Shams Charania and Jason Quick of The Athletic. The NBA changes very quickly. How many teams will be desperate for change ahead of the deadline?
A Simmons trade may or may not come, but Philadelphia could be fielding many calls before time runs out in February. As far as goals, the Sixers are looking for impact talent (with draft picks and prospects to boot). Beyond Simmons, Danny Green and possibly Tyrese Maxey—who shares an agent with Simmons in Rich Paul of Klutch Sports—could be dealt to further the team's chances at a championship run.
Detroit Pistons: Grant Coveted
A recent article by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer caused a bit of a stir—not because of his update on the Sixers and the Simmons saga, but because of the revelation that the Pistons might be willing to part with Jerami Grant. The buzz previously was that Grant has a close relationship with general manager Troy Weaver and is happy to stay in Detroit, despite the team's lackluster record.
If Grant is indeed on the market, a long list of teams will pursue him, as just about every contender needs a 6'8" defender who can also score. Grant might be the biggest name available at the deadline outside of a bombshell like Damian Lillard becoming available.
Grant is under contract at $20 million for the current season, with another year at $21 million in 2022-23. Simmons, who is only 25 years old, could make a lot of sense with three additional seasons on his deal after this one. If not, Detroit could try to cash out Grant for a mix of veterans, prospects and draft considerations. Perhaps this "ridiculous" trade with the Lakers makes more sense with the new intel that Grant may be attainable.