NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 12, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Ben Simmons and Damian Lillard

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    The 2021-22 NBA campaign might be one week away from tipoff, but the trade rumor mill is already in midseason form.

    One All-Star guard is firmly on the trade block, and another could force his way there if his team sputters out of the gate.

    Given the seismic shifts that a trade of either guard could create, let's get straight to the swap talk.

Ben Simmons Back in Philly, Sixers 'Hopeful' for a Return

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    More than a month has passed since Ben Simmons informed the Philadelphia 76ers that he wants out.

    The team, apparently, hasn't abandoned hope of keeping him just yet, and perhaps it has finally made some progress on that front.

    After holding out the first two weeks of preseason, Simmons reported to the Sixers and started the COVID-19 testing required before returning to the team, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    While it's unclear if the 25-year-old has any intention of rejoining the club at any point, Wojnarowski noted president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers "are hopeful to continue working to convince Simmons on remaining long-term with the franchise."

    That would be a stunning turn of events given everything that has played out this offseason.

    Still, having the Australian back in Philadelphia is at least a start. If he does get back on the court, the question becomes whether he's doing so with an openness to staying or simply to improve his trade value.

    Despite heavily shopping Simmons this offseason, the Sixers have yet to find the co-star they would want to put alongside Joel Embiid, per Wojnarowski.

Simmons Wouldn't Mind Sacramento Trade

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    Back in August, a Western Conference executive told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer that Simmons "wants to go to three California teams."

    Either the three-time All-Star has changed his stance, or that group of three teams isn't the one most fans had in mind.

    Upon first glance, it seemed as if Simmons wanted to join either the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers or Los Angeles Clippers. However, The Athletic's David Aldridge recently reported he "would have no problem" being traded to the Sacramento Kings.

    Aldridge added that the player's interest in Sacramento showed how "strong is his desire to get out of Philadelphia," which might indicate the Kings didn't initially make the cut.

    If this is a change of heart, it would be interesting to know what pushed Simmons in this direction: perhaps a more-tepid-than-expected trade market or legitimate interest in (presumably) joining forces with De'Aaron Fox in Northern California.

Damian Lillard Willing to Give Chauncey Billups Chance to Improve Blazers

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    If another domino drops on the disgruntled NBA star front, Damian Lillard seems as likely as anyone to ask out of his current situation.

    His frustration was tangible following the Portland Trail Blazers' fourth first-round exit in five seasons, and despite a request from the 31-year-old for "urgency" from his front office, the team opted against making wholesale changes this summer.

    Still, Lillard apparently hasn't run out of patience with the only NBA franchise he's known just yet.

    "His stance could certainly change if the Blazers get off to a bad start, but sources say Lillard wants to see how this early season goes while giving first-year coach Chauncey Billups a genuine shot at success along the way," The Athletic's Sam Amick reported.

    That's not exactly a lifetime commitment from the Weber State alum, but it should give the Blazers a slight sense of relief. They still need to deliver the kind of on-court results he wants to see, but at least it seems they'll have a chance to do so before he makes any major decisions regarding his future.

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