As we tick down to the Feb. 10 trade deadline, reporting on the Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia has picked up. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne detailed a myriad of layers of the conflict, including the fact that Simmons has forfeited $19 million by sitting out to this point and would lose a staggering total of $32 million if he were to hold out the remainder of the season.
There is talk the Simmons and the 76ers will meet if he isn’t traded by the deadline. Should it come to this, the Sixers would clearly go into that discussion with the hope of convincing Simmons to return to the court. All indications remain that Simmons has no real intentions of doing that. He’ll eat the money. He wants to be traded.
Philly would be happy to trade Simmons, of course, but Daryl Morey is chasing a high price on which he hasn’t shown a willingness to budge. He wants an All-Star player as the centerpiece of any package. Forgetting all the top-tier stars who clearly aren’t available, there’s a pretty short list of targets.
According to David Aldridge and Josh Robbins of The Athletic, Bradley Beal, not surprisingly, is on that list, and that same report just so happens to indicate that Beal is now “conflicted” about his future with the Wizards. But there’s one catch to a potential deal: The Sixers are still trying to pinch additional prospects.
From The Athletic:
Philadelphia has made no secret that Beal is on its short list of players for whom it would trade disgruntled guard Ben Simmons, who has sat out all season. But the 76ers won’t include an additional piece, such as exciting young guard Tyrese Maxey, along with Simmons in a potential trade for Beal, per league sources. Philly has similarly held firm that it won’t put third-year forward Matisse Thybulle, a terrific wing defender, in a Simmons package.
You might recall that the Sixers’ possible unwillingness to include Maxey in a potential deal for James Harden might’ve stood in the way of that trade. There are some dots to connect there. Maybe Morey, who was initially resistant to include Maxey and was reportedly on the hunt for a third team to help facilitate the deal, was willing to include Maxey at the last minute but the Rockets simply liked the Brooklyn deal better. Maybe Houston was never going to do business with Morey, its former GM, in the first place, and was just using Philly’s package as leverage.
Either way, if Morey didn’t want to include Maxey for Harden, he surely doesn’t want to include him in a deal for Beal. As for Thybulle, you can understand also wanting to hang on to him with Simmons going out, as that represents Philly’s two best and most versatile perimeter defenders.
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But beggars can’t be choosers, right? If Morey wants a true difference-maker, it’s going to take more than Simmons. The market has shown that. And Beal might be the last realistic target of such stature. Is Harden really going to come to Philly in the offseason? There are avenues for Philly to clear-cut their cap sheet and sign him as a free agent, or a sign-and-trade could be facilitated with Simmons going to the Nets. Damian Lillard is a super long shot. Who else are we realistically talking about? Jaylen Brown?
It’s a tough call. I like Maxey as much as the next guy, and Beal is a flight risk as a potential unrestricted free agent this summer (he has a $36.4 million player option). But for the sake of conversation, let’s assume the Wizards agree to a deal for Simmons and Beal was willing to commit to Philly long term, would Morey really let Maxey stand in the way of that trade going through?
I usually have an opinion on things, but in this case, I’m not sure I do. At least not a strong one. Again, it would be a tough call, in part because I’m not sure Beal is worth the max money he’s going to receive. But he’s definitely an All-Star who would complement Joel Embiid quite well while giving the Wizards a go-to perimeter scorer. I just don’t know how much better you’re going to do, now or in the offseason.