Rumors are flying inside 48 hours of the 2021 NBA draft and less than a week before the start of free agency, and that can mean only one thing: It's B.S. Meter time!
Escaping trade talks is impossible right now. Rumblings are ubiquitous. Some of them are actual whispers. Others sound more like roars. We could spend days parsing through everything getting churned out by the gossip factory.
Because we have lives—allegedly, anyway—we're going to focus only on the biggest, most important rumors the conjecture wire has to offer. Congratulations to Team A for trying to use Picks B, C and maybe D to acquire a Lottery Selection E or F from Team G or H, respectively. That's not the type of hearsay we're trying to overanalyze and inject into our veins. Marquee names and notable draft picks are our catnip.
Obligatory disclaimer before we get started: The "B.S. Meter" is not meant to trash the highlighted reporting. Every tidbit here is included because it holds meaningful weight. Our B.S. Meter is designed only to gauge what we should make of each situation—if anything.
Ben Simmons Talks Getting Serious
New tidbits related to Ben Simmons' future—or lack thereof—with the Philadelphia 76ers continue to trickle out daily. The latest suggests trade talks will heat up in advance of Thursday's draft.
"I think it will be serious this week," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said during the Woj & Lowe: NBA Special (h/t SI.com's Kevin McCormick). "If there's a deal out there, they're going to do it. Multiple teams are still reported to be interested in the three-time All-Star. It will all come down to who is willing to meet [Sixers team president Daryl] Morey's high asking price."
That asking price is believed to be an "All-Star-caliber player," according to The Athletic's Shams Charania—a hard line on which Morey doesn't appear ready to soften. He apparently pitched the Toronto Raptors on the framework of a Simmons deal that left Philly with Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and the 4th overall pick, per Action Network's Matt Moore.
The Sixers couldn't hope to get that much for Simmons at the absolute peak of his value. Asking for the world and then some now, even as a launching point, is super gutsy on the heels of his offensive vanishing act in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It's this disconnect between how the rest of the league views Simmons and what Philly both needs and wants to get for him that makes any imminent deal unlikely. His departure from the Sixers definitely feels like a fait accompli. But the time to move him isn't when the four years and $146.7 million left on his contract registers as an albatross, even if only somewhat, to potentially interested parties.
This instead feels like a situation that'll be revisited midseason, after Simmons has time to rehabilitate his value. At the very least, it'll be a semi-shock if he's rerouted anywhere prior to or during the draft.
B.S. Meter: Simmons trade talks are no doubt ramping up. The likelihood he gets moved before the draft or free agency still seems like a long-ish shot.
Damian Lillard Still Contemplating Trade Request
Damian Lillard is yet another star with four years left on his deal whose future remains unsettled. And it isn't on the verge of getting any clearer.
From TrueHoop's Henry Abbott:
"Sources say he told his national team friends that he thought the situation in Portland was getting worse. The next day was his birthday; he would turn 31. He told the group that he had meetings with his team coming up the day after that, and he was thinking about demanding a trade. He put percentages on it—75/25—which confused people. What did that mean? It meant he would listen to the team’s plans, and if he didn’t like what he heard, he would demand a trade. He estimated he was 25 percent likely to demand a trade that Friday. Whatever the number, some in the room tell TrueHoop they took it as the beginning of the end for Lillard and the Blazers."
This follows a previous report from Abbott in which sources intimated Lillard was on the cusp of demanding a trade. Though the superstar himself rebuffed those sentiments, he didn't exactly kibosh them. And he straddled that same line in an interview with Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes.
Given that Lillard has essentially said everything just short of "Trade me," it's entirely fair to monitor the state of his relationship and future with the Blazers. Similar to Ben Simmons, though, it's tough to imagine a deal getting done anytime soon, albeit for different reasons.
Lillard's contract is leverage for the organization in this case. Portland has no reason to shop him until he demands it, and even then, general manager Neil Olshey can drag out the process or refuse to do anything. The Blazers aren't technically at Defcon 1 until Lillard is a year out from free agency. (He has a 2024-25 player option.)
Chances are this all comes to head well before then. But it still feels like we're at least a year early on Lillard trade talk. Everything he's said so far implies a willingness to give the Blazers one last crack at building a genuine contender around him.
B.S. Meter: Lillard's trade status is fluid, but not urgent.