If the Philadelphia 76ers want to pull off a “realistic” trade for somewhat equal value featuring Ben Simmons, they don’t have to look too far for it.
According to The Athletic’s John Hollinger, the Sixers obviously have a number of star players they’re targeting in a potential Simmons trade. A couple of those more notable players are the likes of the Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard and Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal.
However, a deal for those franchise players are unlikely. Hollinger mentions the “most prominent” blockbuster trade possible involving Simmons — and that’s a swap for the Boston Celtics‘ Jaylen Brown.
“The most prominent one is if Boston would consider shaking things up with a Simmons-Jaylen Brown deal,” says Hollinger. “This would likely be a non-starter in Beantown were it not for the Celtics’ bizarre torpor of the past two seasons, and it’s getting to the point of ‘they might need to look at this.’ (As for reuniting Simmons and Al Horford? Ehhh…)
Simmons would give Boston a real point guard and let Jayson Tatum take all the shots; Simmons might compromise spacing in lineups with Robert Williams, but the Celtics’ defense with Williams, Simmons and Marcus Smart could be ridiculous. From Philly’s end, obviously, having an All-Star-caliber wing would be a big upgrade, although the Sixers still need a plus passer or two.
The U-turn on most Philly trade scenarios is that in a Brown deal, the Sixers are likely the ones who would need to cough up players and/or picks. Brown is still signed for two more years at reasonable money and made the All-Star team last season.”
Celtics Could Benefit From Moving Brown
As Hollinger mentions, Brown is under contract for two more years after this season at a total of roughly $55.5 million. The All-Star swingman is just 25 years of age — like Simmons — and is just reaching into peak form.
The 6-foot-6 Celtics standout is averaging 23.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game in his fifth season in Boston. While there’s no doubting that him and the 23-year-old Jayson Tatum have yet to reach their prime, there are questions how far the Celtics can advance with the duo.
After advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals in three of their first four seasons together, Boston failed to escape the first round of the playoffs last season (Brown missed the postseason due to wrist surgery).
Through the first half of this year, Boston has regressed at a record of just 16-19, with their supporting cast clearly lacking. While the Celtics were never expected to contend for a title this season — especially with the turnover in not only the roster department, but the coaching shift from Brad Stevens to Ime Udoka — it’s a discouraging sign moving forward.
Acquiring a more pass-first, defensive-oriented guard in Simmons could be a good pairing with the scoring-first Tatum in Boston.
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Sixers Wasting Space on Simmons
For the Sixers, the addition of Brown is an all-around positive in the short term. Philadelphia is wasting a valuable roster spot and potential money on Simmons, who has yet to appear in a game this season.
It’s clear that Joel Embiid alone is not enough to get Philadelphia to that title tier status. The Sixers are currently 19-16 — sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Adding that secondary star could give the Sixers a chance at finally getting past the semifinals of the postseason.
The NBA trade deadline isn’t until Feb. 10. We’ll see if the Celtics are willing to play ball with their fellow Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division rivals before then.