NBA All-Star Ben Simmons has been adamant this offseason that he’s no longer interested in playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. New reports arose Tuesday that he has informed the team he will not report to camp.
The Los Angeles Times‘ NBA reporters — Andrew Greif, Broderick Turner and Dan Woike — examine what’s next for Simmons and the 76ers, including potential trades to the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers as well as the Lakers and the Clippers.
AG: We begin the new NBA season considering the same question that consumed so much attention at the end of the last: Where can Philadelphia find a home, and what can it get back in the process, for Ben Simmons? Less than one week remains before training camp opens with the Sixers and nothing has changed with his get-me-out-of-here stance, per multiple reports today. The difference is that training camp is now officially looming, which means fines could be incoming for Simmons. Will trade offers follow?
BT: Here’s what I now wonder about the Simmons situation now that the reports are that he is done with the 76ers. What are the 76ers looking for in exchange for their All-Star forward? And what can they actually get in return?
DW: The Clippers and Lakers should be very interested in this situation even if the likelihood of either team acquiring Simmons is lower than his three-point percentage. The reason is that there’s one team in the West that could instantly become one of the conference’s favorites by dealing for him — the Golden State Warriors. While Portland could be a landing spot, the most seismic shift in the West would be if Simmons ends up in the Bay with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They certainly could live without his offense, and Simmons’ elite defense alongside that kind of talent — and Green’s mastery on that side of the ball — would have Golden State instantly at the top of any West rankings alongside the Lakers.
BT: Ben is certainly a talent, but he has so many holes in his offensive game, like can he shoot at all — I mean, at all — unless he made some improvements on that front over the summer. Simmons has four years left on his deal at about $146 million, so whichever team gets him will have him locked up for a while. Where Simmons will land will be interesting to see.
AG: Simmons still has many fans around the league, even after memorably passing up a layup in the second round of last season’s playoffs against Atlanta, and then eventually disappearing from fourth quarters in the series. The issue in moving him doesn’t seem to be so much other teams’ impressions of Simmons but, rather, the asking price to get him. The Sixers have a window to win big with All-Star center Joel Embiid coming off a near-MVP season. They need someone in return who can shoulder the workload alongside Embiid immediately, and that’s why the term “young star” comes up when asking around about what will draw Philly’s attention in an offer.
DW: All that really matters to me is that, for the health of the NBA, Simmons’ trade value is not so suppressed where the 76ers get a wildly unequal return in a trade. Watching stars who sign long-term contracts express trade desires earlier and earlier isn’t great for the league. And seeing one of them refuse to show up for work until he’s dealt isn’t great either.
AG: The Clippers have the kind of ecosystem where Simmons’ strengths could thrive and his weaknesses be covered, to a degree, because of the sheer number of shooters with whom they could surround Simmons. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard (when he returns from his knee injury), Nicolas Batum, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris, Serge Ibaka, on and on — their collective perimeter threats, in theory, make Simmons’ lack of one less worrisome. Take a minute to think about the small-ball lineups that coach Tyronn Lue deployed in the last postseason that helped pushed the Clippers to their first conference finals, with Simmons added in. You think Lue could make use of another tall, switchable defender? The 25-year-old is also under contract for four more seasons — ensuring the roster would have a young, All-Star talent as George and Leonard age. There would also some familiarity: Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. and Simmons share an agency and worked out together this offseason.
DW: If the asking price got so low for Ben Simmons that either the Lakers or the Clippers could get him without sending out a star, what does Philadelphia know that those teams don’t? Would (and should) you want a player a team is actively trying to give away? There are no signs that Philadelphia is desperate to reduce his value just to make a deal — they know how good he can be — so the point is probably moot. He’s going to be too costly for either team. At least he should be.
BT: I can’t see the Lakers acquiring Simmons. Let’s be real, he’s not as good as LeBron James or Anthony Davis.
AG: Again, it’s fair to ask: Who would not want a player who, despite notable offensive holes, has his level of playmaking and an All-Defensive team body of work? But it’s hard to speculate on momentum building for a deal because Philadelphia’s hefty asking price is one the Clippers would seem to have a very, very hard time meeting, unless the Sixers begin to soften their stance. L.A.’s draft capital is largely depleted and they have some intriguing but hardly All-Star caliber young players on the roster.
DW: It’s not as exciting as chasing Simmons, but the Lakers will probably be involved in some roster moves over the next week as they get ready for training camp. Their 14th roster spot is probably earmarked for a veteran who could be available if needed — but who will likely spend most of the time on the bench. A few names to keep an eye on for either that spot or a camp invite include wing James Ennis and point guard Tim Frazier, a close friend of Davis.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.