76ers Rumors: 'Goal Is Less to Trade Ben Simmons and More to Acquire Damian Lillard'

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 8, 2021

United States' Damian Lillard plays against Australia during an exhibition basketball game Monday, July 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
AP Photo/John Locher

The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly hoping to acquire Damian Lillard this offseason while they shop fellow All-Star Ben Simmons, according to Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

"From the Sixers’ perspective, it would be fair to say the goal is less to trade Ben Simmons and more to acquire Damian Lillard," Bodner wrote.

The team's president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hoped to acquire James Harden last season, but he now reportedly has his eyes on Lillard as he tries to bring another star to the organization.

Simmons has been used as the team's biggest trade bait since the season ended and the guard has reportedly "cut off communication with basically everyone in the Sixers organization," per Jason Dumas of KRON4 News.

The challenge has been for other teams to match a lofty asking price from the 76ers. David Aldridge of The Athletic reported Philadelphia was seeking at least four future first-round picks plus an All-Star-level player. 

It could be an attempt to raise the value for Simmons before eventually working out a deal for Lillard.

There has been plenty of speculation about the guard leaving Portland after nine years with the team, although NBA writer Marc Stein recently reported "neither Portland nor Lillard is ready to entertain trade possibilities."

This could still change with Lillard set to return from the Tokyo Olympics.

Portland enters next season with a new coach in Chauncey Billups and could look to rebuild after losing in the first round of the playoffs in four of the last five years.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, likely has its eyes on a title after finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference last season. Pairing Lillard with Joel Embiid would give the squad two elite players who could fit well as an inside-outside tandem.

The 76ers would have to add more than just Simmons to bring back Lillard, but it could be worth it to put the team closer to a championship.