A blockbuster trade featuring Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons is reportedly "inevitable" before the 2021-22 NBA season.
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday that interest in Simmons is higher than expected because of a weak free-agent class, but a timetable for a deal remains unclear with multiple sources telling Pompey it may not be finalized until the preseason.
"Philadelphia has options," a league source told the Inquirer. "They're just not finite."
Simmons put together a strong 2020-21 season for the Sixers. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals across 58 appearances. He was named an All-Star for the third time and was selected to the NBA All-Defensive first team for the second time.
The 25-year-old Australian's campaign ended on a low note, though. He scored just 19 points over the final three games of the team's second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks that Philly lost in seven games.
Those struggles paired with Simmons' continued shooting woes raised questions about what type of return the 76ers front office could demand in a trade.
Pompey reported the team has remained adamant about getting an All-Star player as part of the return package, but so far no teams has been willing to offer that type of cornerstone. Instead front offices are seeking a "bargain-basement deal" given the belief the Sixers want to move on from their point guard.
The expectation is the offers will become more realistic as next season moves closer, per Pompey.
A trade is the best option for all sides. The Sixers need to shake up their core after failing to reach championship-level aspirations with the tandem of Simmons and Joel Embiid, and the point guard could benefit from finding a new home before facing the wrath of fans in Philadelphia.
"It's going to be tough for Simmons to regain favor with Sixers fans. It wouldn't be surprising if he was booed at games and heckled around town at the start of next season. He knows that," Pompey wrote.
Yet he's too valuable of a player for the 76ers to accept pennies on the dollar in return. So waiting on the offseason free-agent and trade frenzy to be completed is probably the front office's best option since teams that were unable to upgrade their backcourt could then circle back for Simmons.
All told, it may take some time to find the right offer, but it would be a surprise if Simmons opens next season on the Sixers roster.