Ben Simmons has been among the most notorious figures of the NBA offseason and he could blame his performance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs for that. The prevailing buzz is that the Philadelphia 76ers are going to ship him out of the City of Brotherly Love. There have also been several reports saying that the Sixers have been hawking Simmons around the NBA, but no one seems to be even taking a swing. In addition, Simmons has reportedly cut off communication lines between him and the Sixers.
But as dire as the outlook of Simmons staying in Philly as it is right now, it appears that the Sixers are more interested in building a Big Three with Simmons than sending him away.
“Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has always been steadfast in his pursuit of superstars, with his team-building philosophy being the epitome of “star hunting” long before the phrase was ever translated to Bostralian. From the very start of Morey’s tenure in Philadelphia the organization was almost singularly focused on monitoring the James Harden situation in Houston, according to sources both inside and out of the organization. Since the Sixers’ season ended the team has similarly kept a watchful eye on the status of Lillard in Portland. From the Sixers’ perspective, it would be fair to say the goal is less to trade Ben Simmons and more to acquire Damian Lillard.”
A reason why Simmons is still in Philly is that the Sixers are not budging on their reported high asking price in return for the LSU product, which is a package of multiple future first-round with an All-Star-caliber asset.
Good luck with that.
So, the Sixers are turning their attention on chasing after Lillard, who had just helped Team USA win the gold in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Adding Lillard to the Sixers would send shockwaves across not just in the Eastern Conference but in the entire NBA. The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending champions but this is a scenario where Giannis Antetokounmpo could be the deer in the Sixers’ headlights. A tandem of Lillard and Embiid would be a nightly headache for opposing teams. Philadelphia has been a post-heavy offense over the past years because of Embiid, and if Lillard would join the party there, stopping the Cameroonian would be an entirely different problem for the rest of the league to solve.
Obviously, Lillard won’t come cheap for the Sixers. He is due to earn at least $39 million in each of the next four seasons (starting in the 2021-22 campaign), plus he comes with a player option worth $48.787 million in 2024-25. Trading some pieces like Seth Curry and/or Danny Green can create some space, though. Tobias Harris could become expendable as well. It’s also worth noting that Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, and Tyrese Maxey all have team options on the latter part of their current deals. In other words, the Sixers have the financial legroom to get Lillard.
The NBA offseason is the gift that keeps on giving. We’ll just have to wait and see if this Lillard to Philadelphia rumor actually materializes.