As the Ben Simmons saga rolls on, the Minnesota Timberwolves remain consistently linked with the wantaway power forward.
The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Tuesday: "In conversations with teams in Las Vegas, I came away with the impression that the Timberwolves were the team that was most active in talks to try to make a Simmons deal happen."
That followed a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey earlier in the day that Simmons told the Sixers he would like to be traded and did not plan to report to training camp if he wasn't moved before that time.
Nate Duncan @NateDuncanNBA
Simmons not reporting would seem to freeze his trade value at what has heretofore been its lowest point. Won't have a chance to rehab value by starting the season. On the other hand, he won't have a chance to lower it by playing poorly or continuing to struggle at the line .
Derek Bodner @DerekBodnerNBA
Thing is, not entirely sure how much pressure this actually applies to Sixers, especially if Simmons doesn't report. I don't think holding out will torpedo trade value like it did decades ago. GMs all have strong opinions on his +'s and -'s and know current sitch is temporary..
No surprises there—reports all summer have suggested the Sixers were shopping Simmons. Those reports have also echoed the familiar theme that Philly wants a major haul in return.
"(The 76ers) want an All-Star-caliber player in return," a league source told The Athletic's Shams Charania in July.
And The Athletic's David Aldridge reported in early August: "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."
The Wolves could dispense of the future picks. But the All-Star-level player is tougher to envision. Krawczynski reported that the Wolves wouldn't part with Karl-Anthony Towns (who would be a bizarre fit with Joel Embiid in the parallel universe where Minnesota was willing to trade him) and that young star-in-the-making Anthony Edwards is "untouchable."
As for D'Angelo Russell, it's fair to question if he would move the needle for a Philly team looking to add a star next to Embiid. He'd be an upgrade offensively, no doubt, but is a major liability on the defensive end. Plus, Krawczynski noted the Wolves "have talked all summer about building a team with Towns, Edwards and Russell around Simmons."
From that perspective, then, are the Wolves going to offer the Sixers Malik Beasley, Taurean Prince, Jaden McDaniels and a series of future first-rounders and pick swaps? Even with the threat of Simmons not reporting to training camp and creating a media frenzy, it's hard to imagine Sixers president Daryl Morey being swayed by such a deal.
Even a deal sending Russell, Beasley and picks to Philly for Simmons, Furkan Korkmaz and Shake Milton would likely be met with turned-up noses from the Sixers front office.
It isn't hard to see why Minnesota covets Simmons. He'd instantly be the team's best defender, he remains an unstoppable force in transition, and Towns' perimeter game would pair nicely with Simmons' unwillingness and inability to stretch the floor in the slightest.
Granted, the move would make slightly less sense without a pick-and-roll point guard like Russell in Minnesota to run the half-court offense. In crunch time, Simmons essentially disappears from the half-court offense. He's proved time and time again in the postseason that he can't be a team's primary point guard.
But the Wolves don't appear to have the assets in place to complete such a deal unless Philly is willing to take a mountain of future picks in the hopes of flipping them for a star down the line. Time will tell. But the Wolves have been regularly linked to Simmons enough this summer to suggest that they'll be in the mix in any and all trade talks.