76ers GM Elton Brand Says He's 'Not Looking' to Trade Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 25, 2020

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons, left, of Australia, watches with Joel Embiid, right, of Cameroon, to see if his shot goes in during the first half in Game 5 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand suggested Tuesday that he is looking to move forward with guard Ben Simmons and center Joel Embiid as the team's core. 

Brand told reporters: "I'm not looking to trade Ben or Joel. I am looking to complement them better."

The Boston Celtics swept Philadelphia in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs this week, marking the 19th consecutive year the Sixers have failed to reach the conference finals round or better.

Many considered the Sixers the team to beat in the Eastern Conference last season with a lineup consisting of Simmons, Embiid, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and JJ Redick, but the eventual NBA champion Toronto Raptors ousted them in the second round.

Philly lost both Butler and Redick in free agency during the offseason, but they re-signed Harris and acquired five-time All-Star big man Al Horford.

The Sixers struggled to a 43-30 record, however, which was only good for sixth in the Eastern Conference and gave them a tough first-round matchup against Boston. It didn't help that the oft-injured Simmons missed the series with a knee ailment.

Injuries suffered by Simmons and Embiid have arguably been the factor that has held the Sixers back the most over the years.

Both players missed their entire rookie years because of injury, and Embiid missed his second season as well. Embiid has never appeared in more than 64 games in a season, and while Simmons sat out just four combined contests in 2017-18 and 2018-19, he missed 16 regular-season matchups this season and all four playoff games.

When Simmons and Embiid are healthy, though, it can be argued that they are two of the top 15 players in the NBA.

Simmons has been named an All-Star in each of the past two seasons and averaged 16.4 points, 8.0 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game. Embiid has made the All-Star Game in three straight seasons and put up 23.0 points, 11.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 blocks per game this year.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle for the Sixers is finding pieces that fit alongside Simmons and Embiid, as Harris and Horford didn't seem to work ideally in support of them this season.

The 76ers could use a better shooter than Harris as their No. 3 scoring option since Simmons struggles in that regard, and they may want a big more comfortable with playing power forward than Horford is.

Harris is signed for four more years at an average annual salary of $36 million, while Horford's deal lasts three more years at an average of $27.25 million per season.

Given how much money is tied up in Harris and Horford, making room for more high-profile players to play alongside Simmons and Embiid could prove difficult.