The ongoing divide between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers seems to be getting worse by the day.
Although both sides are holding strong and refusing to budge, their situation is growing increasingly untenable.
Two teams have already stepped up with serious offers for Simmons, only to get rejected. Another seems deeply divided on whether to pursue Simmons.
One dark horse candidate that has emerged as a potential suitor for Simmons in recent days is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I think Cleveland is potentially a wildcard,” wrote Derek Bodner of The Athletic. “But I think what’s perhaps more interesting than what new teams could enter into the bidding war for Simmons is what teams [Daryl] Morey will be able to rope in to make it a three (or four) team deal. That could end up being the key to all teams walking away feeling comfortable with the trade.”
According to NBA insider Evan Dammarell, one player is key to any potential Simmons deal between the Sixers and Cavaliers. That player? Darius Garland.
“Ben is super close with Darius Garland through sharing the same agency in Klutch. That’s one of the driving factors in his openness to going to Cleveland,” an Eastern Conference executive told Dammarell. “He also wants a fresh start with a team where he is clearly the best player and he would get that treatment there. More than anything, he just wants to be wanted and appreciated.”
This past year Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 boards and 6.9 assists per game. For all the understandable criticism he gets over his shooting woes, he is still an extremely talented player. And free agents of his caliber rarely come to Cleveland on their own.
If the Cavaliers have a fair shot at bringing Simmons in, they should go to whatever lengths necessary to do so. Do they actually have a fair shot, given the trade the Sixers seem to be holding out for? That remains to be seen.