NBA Trade Rumors: Latest Rumblings on Team Plans as 2021 Draft Approaches
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Suns took a 3-1 Western Conference Finals series lead over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Milwaukee Bucks and Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, are tied in the Eastern Conference Finals with one win apiece.
As the 2021 NBA postseason continues, teams not still in the playoffs are busy preparing plans for the offseason. July's draft will be a huge event, and the trade and free-agent markets should be robust. For some teams, like the cap-strapped Los Angeles Lakers, trades may be the only way to significantly change their rosters before the 2021-22 season.
What plans might teams have in store for the coming months? You'll find a look at the latest buzz here.
76ers 'Reluctant' to Break Up Simmons-Embiid Tandem
The poor play of Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons remains one of the lingering stories of the last playoff round. While Simmons struggled with shooting for much of the season, he was downright awful for the majority of the series against the Hawks.
In four games, Simmons failed to even reach 10 points.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, and the 76ers have discussed whether a trade out of Philadelphia would make sense.
"Paul met with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand at the pre-draft combine to begin evaluating the next steps in Simmons' Sixers career, sources said," Wojnarowski wrote.
While Wojnarowski reported that teams have gauged Simmons' availability while at the scouting combine, Philadelphia is hesitant to make a hasty move.
"Philadelphia remains reluctant to break up the tandem of Joel Embiid and Simmons without maximizing a return and exhausting all possibilities to improve Simmons' offense, sources said," Wojnarowski added.
Simmons and Embiid did get Philadelphia close to the conference finals, so a bargain-basement deal wouldn't make sense. If the Sixers can address Simmons' shooting and confidence issues, even to a small degree, Philly could take another postseason step next year.
Cavs Considering Collin Sexton Trade; Other Teams Higher on Jarrett Allen
The Cleveland Cavaliers may soon have to make decisions on the futures of shooting guard Collin Sexton and center Jarrett Allen. Sports Illustrated's Jeremy Woo says the Cavs are already looking into trading Sexton.
"According to league sources, the Cavaliers have begun to explore trade options involving leading scorer Collin Sexton," Woo wrote. "Sexton, 22, is extension-eligible this summer, averaged 24.3 points per game last season, and appears likely to seek a maximum contract."
However, if Cleveland is looking to maximize its trade value—and it should be—dealing Allen may be the better option.
In a recent article, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discussed sign-and-trade scenarios involving Sexton and Allen and the impact drafting USC's Evan Mobley would have on Allen's future. According to Pluto, teams around the league view Allen as the more valuable piece.
"Sexton's agent will probably push for a maximum contract," Pluto wrote. "That could hurt his trade value. Most good teams view Sexton as a Lou Williams, instant-offense player off the bench. Allen is rated higher by most teams."
So while the Cavs may already be eying a Sexton trade, return value could warrant an Allen sign-and-trade instead.
Knicks Not Looking to Carry Multiple Prospects into Next Season
The New York Knicks are loaded with draft capital, holding the 19th, 21st and 32nd overall selections. However, New York doesn't appear inclined to use all three of those picks. Coach Tom Thibodeau would prefer not to carry a load of prospects into next season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post.
"Chief strategist Brock Aller will look to deal picks and money to move into the lottery, according to sources," Berman wrote earlier in June. "Thibodeau doesn't want too many more prospects on his roster. Also, the Knicks are one of the few teams who will have some cap space on draft night to make a trade smoother."
It appears that other teams don't anticipate New York using all of their selections, either.
"That's a question some agents with players in New York's range are asking. They don't see the Knicks keeping all of their early picks (No. 19, No. 21, No. 32)," SNY's Ian Begley wrote. "Several opposing teams with picks near New York's feel the same way."
Per Begley, at least one executive believes that the Knicks could trade into the top eight by packaging their picks.
New York's need for picks could be further reduced if the Knicks are able to land a veteran like New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball. That particular move would require signing Ball to an offer sheet, but New York might be an enticing destination for Ball and his family.
"Sources believe Lavar, a former tight end on the Jets' practice squad, wants all his sons on Broadway, and the Knicks are on Lonzo's radar," Berman wrote.
It wouldn't be a shock to see the Knicks prioritize veterans over prospects coming off of their opening-round loss to Atlanta. Winning now is likely to goal in New York.