Despite the Philadelphia 76ers claims that they can repair the deadlock between them and their want-away guard Ben Simmons, it seems to be best for business that they let the Australian go elsewhere.
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What first started with Simmons requesting a trade this off-season has now spiralled into the star boycotting training camp altogether.
The fines, ranging from $7,500 for missed practices at a minimum, and $227,000 that Simmons will potentially lose for every game that he misses, have not lured him back to practice.
Simmons is under contract through 2024-25, and the 76ers have elected to almost distance themselves from this particular trade process with the beliefs that the issues with the Aussie can still be fixed and that there is no trade right now that improves the roster, or at the very least keeps them as a contender.
“I think there’s a lot of hope,” 76ers president Daryl Morey said Monday morning.
“I would say I watched last night a player [the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers] lead his team to victory when a thousand pounds of digital ink were spilled on how much he would never play for that team again.
“Look, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here.”
But what happens if nothing changes? Or we get to 15 December when trade restrictions are lifted and the 76ers are a .500 team or worse? Would Philadelphia take the best deal on the table or wait until after the date where restrictions are lifted?
At a minimum, a team has to send out at least $26.5 million in salary for a Simmons trade to work. So far, Portland Trailblazers look to be the best fit for Simmons at this moment.
If you take out Damian Lillard from any trade talks (it is unlikely that Portland will even entertain that), it leaves the Blazers with CJ McCollum as an attractive trade asset.
McCollum, who enters next season with six straight seasons of scoring at least 20 points per game under his belt, is under contract through to the 2023-24 season.
Lillard has asked for upgrades to the roster, but is Simmons the right player? And especially at the cost of Lillard’s longtime backcourt partner?
Portland traded a lottery-protected first rounder to the Chicago Bulls in the Larry Nance. Jr deal and they would certainly need to remove the protection in 2022 in order to trade future first-round picks.