The Philadelphia 76ers have made several notable moves over the past few months between the hiring of head coach Doc Rivers and addition of former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey to oversee basketball operations.
At this point, the one big question surrounding Philly is the same one that has loomed over organization for years now: can Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid play well together? Thus far the results have been mixed. Moreover, Simmons – on paper, at least – doesn’t appear to be the type of player who aligns with Morey’s philosophies.
This week, NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh suggested that Simmons would actually be an excellent fit with the Golden State Warriors. The only real way to make a trade like that work would be to have Simmons and Al Horford sent to Golden State in return for some combination of this year’s No. 2 and No. 48 picks, next year’s Minnesota potential top-3 pick, Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, Jordan Poole and the Willie Cauley-Stein trade exception.
“I think he is the perfect fit next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson,” Haberstroh argued. “People might say ‘Hey, he kind of fills the same role as Draymond Green, why would you go for a guy that kind of duplicates what he does?’
“Well, Ben Simmons is much younger than Draymond Green. I think if you’re going to try to acquire someone with the No. 2 pick, and package it with next year’s pick they received from the Minnesota Timberwolves, I think you have to shoot for a player that is going to be someone that kind of transitions to that next phase of this Warriors team, after Stephen Curry, after Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.”
In Haberstroh’s estimation, Simmons’ strong defensive skills and superior length would bring an element to the Warriors’ lineup that was key to them winning three championships.
“He’d be like Andre Iguodala,” Haberstroh noted. “You can throw him against a lot of different players and win a Finals MVP in the right situation.”
The main question now is whether this year’s No. 2 overall pick and next year’s Wolves pick is enough for a player of Simmons’ caliber. It’s debatable.
Rajon Rondo is having himself an offseason. https://t.co/d6cYZNLga9
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 29, 2020
If Philly can go out and trade Simmons for someone like James Harden, then obviously not. But that deal is likely not out there for them. It is very difficult to trade a star for a star in this league. More often than not, you trade your star for a bet on future talent plus an outgoing bad contract – and that’s what the Sixers would be doing here.
Up to this point, Rivers has maintained that he joined the organization in hopes of coaching both Simmons and Embiid – not just one of them.
“When you look at these young players and their potential, the fact that they’ve had so much success in some ways at the ages they are already — and where I believe they can go — it’s a job you just couldn’t turn down. And that’s why I’m here. We have two young [stars] here in Philadelphia that have already had success,” he said.
Decision time for the Lakers. https://t.co/SnMU8KHLQv
— Game 7 (@game7__) October 29, 2020
“My job is to add to that and try to take them to a place that they’ve not been. They’ve done a lot of winning but we want to be the winner.”
All that is well and good– but fit matters. And up to this point, Simmons and Embiid simply have not fit well together. Clearly things can change, but Rivers has never quite been the sort of coach who comes up with innovative game plans that get the most out of his guys.
Popular wisdom is that the Sixers will give Simmons and Embiid one more shot together before doing anything drastic, but Morey has always marched to the beat of his own drum. If the right deal comes along, it really wouldn’t be surprising at all to see Simmons in a different uniform sooner rather than later.