Ben Simmons Rumors: 76ers Star Would 'Welcome' Playing for Gregg Popovich, Spurs

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 10, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during Game 7 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons, who has requested a trade, would reportedly welcome playing for the San Antonio Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich.

Longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein mentioned that note Friday on Substack (h/t RealGM Wiretap).

"I've heard that Ben Simmons would welcome the opportunity to play for Popovich if the Spurs found a way to acquire him," Stein wrote.

The 25-year-old Simmons has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game over his four NBA seasons. He's a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive Team member.

The 9-15 Spurs have struggled in the early going, although they have won five of their last seven games after a 4-13 start.

They are a better team than their record shows, with the Spurs notably sitting 15th out of 30 NBA teams in net rating and sporting an expected win-loss mark of 12-12, per Basketball-Reference.

Adding Simmons could certainly help the Spurs as they look to overcome their bad start and make the playoffs in a top-heavy conference for which only five teams are above .500.

However, the question is whether the Spurs could come up with a trade offer appealing enough to president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski previously reported in July that Morey was looking for a "James Harden-esque" deal. Stein reported that Morey is looking for a package headlined by a player in the "Damian Lillard/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tier."

In other words, Morey doesn't appear willing to trade Simmons for anything less than a monster haul right now.

That's an issue for the Spurs. They have one budding star player in point guard Dejounte Murray and some intriguing young talent around him. Unless San Antonio wants to trade Murray plus some other pieces, a Simmons deal would not work.

The Spurs may be better off rolling with what they have and hoping their recent turnaround foreshadows a better back half of the season.

As for Simmons, he's sat the entire season. He initially held out for much of the preseason before returning right before the NBA campaign started.

practice spat led to a one-game suspension, and he has since told the 76ers that he is not mentally ready to play, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic in October.

Without Simmons, the 76ers have gone just 14-12, although they have missed superstar center Joel Embiid for 10 games and second-leading scorer Tobias Harris for nine more.