Ben Simmons Trade Rumors: 76ers, Pelicans Discussed Deal Involving 1st-Round Picks

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 15, 2021

FILE - Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons shoots free throws during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, in this Monday, April 12, 2021, file photo. Ben Simmons can't shoot and lost his confidence. He blamed a mental block on the worst free-throw shooting percentage in NBA playoff history. The 76ers head into the offseason faced with a big question - do they try and salvage Simmons or deal the former No. 1 pick. . (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly held trade talks with the Philadelphia 76ers about point guard Ben Simmons that featured future first-round draft choices and other pick swaps.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported Wednesday the Pelicans weren't willing to include Brandon Ingram in the discussions and noted it's "unclear" if the recent setback Zion Williamson suffered with his foot injury will alter the Pelicans' pursuit of Simmons.

The three-time All-Star hasn't played for the Sixers this season. He stayed away from the franchise for most of training camp and the preseason while awaiting a potential trade that never arrived. He's since sought treatment for his mental health.

In November, Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, raised concerns about Philadelphia's actions while the 25-year-old Australian met with mental-health professionals.

"I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue—that's very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben," Paul told Shams Charania of The Athletic. "Either you help Ben, or come out and say he's lying. Which one is it?"

A 76ers official told Charania they were "absolutely not" trying to force Simmons to play or accusing him of lying about his mental-health status.

The 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals across 275 regular-season games for the Sixers.

Meanwhile, the Pelicans were expected to take a significant step forward this season, but that step hasn't materialized in large part because of injuries.

Williamson hasn't played this season because of lingering problems following offseason foot surgery, and Ingram has also missed nearly a quarter of the campaign (seven of the team's 29 games).

A Big Three of Williamson, Ingram and Simmons would be intriguing when all of them are healthy, but whether that's a realistic target is tough question to answer.

The Sixers have held firm on their high asking price for the guard, including their desire to land an upper-echelon player in return. The Pelicans don't have anyone besides Williamson and Ingram who falls into that category, so keeping Ingram out of talks could be a nonstarter.

So far, there's nothing to suggest a Simmons trade is imminent to New Orleans or elsewhere.