Ben Simmons Trade Rumors: 76ers Want 'At Least' 4 1st-Round Picks and All-Star Player

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 20: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers plays defense against Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks during Round 2, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on June 20, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers are holding out for a king's ransom in trade talks involving Ben Simmons, according to The Athletic's David Aldridge:

"Multiple league sources maintain that Philly's asking price for Ben Simmons on the eve of free agency remains sky-high. At minimum, the Sixers are seeking control of at least four future first-round picks via direct trade or pick swaps, along with an All-Star-level player in most (but not all) scenarios. Philly has engaged in discussions with teams around the league since mid-July."

If that desired return seems ambitious for a player who disappeared on offense in the Sixers' Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks—especially in the fourth quarters during that series—well, that's fair. Simmons remains averse to shooting from the perimeter.

It's also fair to question if he can be anything more than the third-best player on a championship team. Such a team would need an excellent scoring option on the perimeter to close out playoff games when the floor shrinks, the game slows down and it becomes harder to hide bad offensive players. 

But the Sixers will make a few counterarguments to that assessment of Simmons' value:

  • He's only 25 and has yet to hit his prime. 
  • He's already a three-time All-Star who has made the playoffs in every season he's played during his career. 
  • He's arguably the league's most versatile defensive player—13 NBA coaches polled by The Athletic said he was the best defensive player this year, not Rudy Gobert—and one of the best passers as well. He's also a force in transition and is dangerous when surrounded by perimeter shooting.
  • He's also under contract through the 2024-25 season. For smaller-market teams that may struggle to attract high-profile free agents, the chance to trade for Simmons and keep him around for a while should be enticing. 

"Size, speed, strength, ability to guard smalls, ability to guard bigs, what more do you want? He has it all" a coach told The Athletic regarding Simmons' defensive abilities. "Length, shot-blocking ability. They're such a dynamic team when he's on the floor. Quick in the passing lanes to get steals. That's his contribution to the game."

Rich Hofmann @rich_hofmann

This is a trend we have seen before, with coaches valuing Simmons quite highly. Doc Rivers said that when he was lobbying for Simmons and Tobias Harris to make the All-Star team, he said most of his colleagues told him Simmons was a lock.

But the NBA is often described as a make-or-miss league, and it's hard to make shots if you aren't willing to take them. If Simmons' trade value is indeed perceived to be at an all-time low around the league, NBA teams aren't going to give the Sixers their best offers. 

In turn, the Sixers don't need to be in a rush to deal their young star.

In the long term, a pairing of Joel Embiid and Simmons doesn't appear likely to result in a championship. But in the short term, the Sixers shouldn't rush into a deal if it doesn't return them either a star player who keeps Embiid's championship window open or the assets they can flip for such a player down the line.

The Sixers seem to want both. That isn't likely to happen.