Philadelphia 76ers point-forward Ben Simmons had a rough playoffs, especially in their second round loss to the Atlanta Hawks when he averaged just 9.9 points per game, only shot 33% from the line, and only attempted six shots per game: well below his season average. In fact, his overall FT percentage of 34.2% was the worst in NBA Playoff history with a minimum of 70 attempts.
He was especially dreadful in Game 7 on Sunday as he completely disappeared on offense and afterwards was thrown under the bus — fairly or not — by both Doc Rivers and his fellow All Star Joel Embiid. As a result, the rumor mill is churning again about Philly possibly looking to trade Simmons, and Vegas oddsmaker Bet Online has given the Spurs the third-best odds of netting him should the Sixers decide to take that route.
Odds on Ben Simmons next team if traded:— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) June 21, 2021
Portland Trail Blazers +200
Washington Wizards +300
San Antonio Spurs +400
Utah Jazz +500
Oklahoma City Thunder +550
Golden State Warriors +600
Los Angeles Lakers +650
Cleveland Cavaliers +700
Houston Rockets +1000
(Completely unrelated, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer has an article on Simmons and the 76ers’ current situation, and while he doesn’t mention the Spurs, he does give reasons as to why Portland and the Wizards are considered favorite landing spots.)
Of course, putting together a good enough package to entice Daryl Morey might be easier said than done. While the Spurs will have the cap space to absorb the $31 million he’s owed next season (which builds up to $38 million by the 2024-25 season, the last year of his current contract) without having to make an equal value trade in return, Philly will be looking for an upgrade, not to merely offload him.
They’d be giving up their best playmaker, so a trade with the Spurs would likely require some combination that involves Dejounte Murray and/or Derrick White, plus another key piece or two and likely this year’s lottery pick at a minimum. Perhaps the easiest and most logical move would be a direct sign-and-trade with DeMar DeRozan that may or may not require another piece, assuming he’d agree to it. Such a move would give the 76ers a similar playmaker to Simmons with much more scoring ability, albeit one who is almost equally as adverse to shooting threes.
Of course, the other side of that coin is the Spurs would actually have to want Simmons and believe he’d be worth giving up some of their current players for, especially if a sign-and-trade featuring DeRozan is off the table. While Simmons could definitely help the Spurs as a playmaker, excellent defender, and help speed up the pace, shooting is what they were missing the most last season, and he would not help much in that regard. Over 90% of his field goal attempts came from within 10 feet of the basket last season, and with the Spurs currently lacking in outside shooting threats, that’s not a good fit.
If they were to trade for Simmons, they would need more three-point shooters to put around him and give him room to operate. There’s also the question of how Simmons would work next to a traditional center who occupies the same space in Jakob Poeltl, compared to Embiid, who is at least a threat to shoot threes, can help spread the floor more, and give Simmons room to operate and work his passing magic.
Overall, despite what the oddsmakers say, Simmons doesn’t seem like a great fit with the Spurs roster as it’s currently constructed. Other changes would need to be made to make it work, but he’s still a three-time All Star for a reason, and PATFO wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t at least inquire with Philadelphia about a possible trade.
What do you think, Pounders? Should the Spurs try to get Simmons from the 76ers, and if so at what cost? Feel free to discuss in the comments below.