Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers need to come to a realization: they are better off separated. Rather than trying to force a square peg into a round hole, a trade would benefit both parties. Simmons needs to spread his wings elsewhere, while the Sixers need to find a better running mate alongside superstar Joel Embiid.
Once Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers seemingly threw Simmons under the bus after he passed up a wide-open dunk opportunity in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks, the long-term relationship between Simmons and Philadelphia officially splintered.
The 25-year-old All-NBA player with fruitful playmaking and defensive upside has reportedly been avoiding contact with Sixers management, and recently Simmons’ agency Klutch Sports officially requested a trade. Simmons isn't planning to attend training camp, but Sixers GM Daryl Morey seems to have dug his heels into the sand even further on his asking price for Simmons in any potential trade scenario.
We’re heading down the tracks of an explosive and rather ugly ending between Simmons and the team who drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016. With seemingly no ending in sight, at least from the Sixers’ standpoint, how will this situation play out? There are plenty of potential scenarios, but here's one resolution that could make sense for both Simmons and the Sixers.
If Philadelphia is holding out hope that Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal will ask for a trade and delays a Simmons deal until midseason, you’re playing a dangerous game. That could create a chaotic locker-room environment for several months until February’s trade deadline. Even then, it’s a risky gamble that could even sour someone like Embiid, who certainly doesn't want to deal with that headache for three months of the season. Even if Simmons stays away from the team while the front office holds out for a better trade, it would be an awkward period for the players and hang over the upcoming season.
What’s the best return that Philadelphia can hope for in a Simmons blockbuster? Right now, there are still teams out there who could provide Morey and Co. with exactly what they need to make life easier for Embiid. How about C.J. McCollum from Portland? Malcolm Brogdon and/or T.J. Warren from Indiana? D’Angelo Russell from Minnesota? Maybe Sacramento eventually changes their tune on De’Aaron Fox's availability?