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NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Ben Simmons' 76ers Status, Damian Lillard's Future

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIOctober 16, 2021

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 20: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during Round 2, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on June 20, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

There have been some big-name players traded since the end of the last NBA season, such as Russell Westbrook getting dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers. But there have also been some top players featured in trade rumors who have still remained with their current teams.

While the 2021-22 season gets underway Tuesday, the trade deadline is still at least several months away. So the rumors are going to continue, and perhaps there will be even more marquee players who swap teams.

One of the biggest storylines of the offseason has been Ben Simmons' status with the Philadelphia 76ers. Although it's seemed at times like he would be traded, he remains on their roster heading into the new season. Maybe that will change, but it could also not.

Here's some of the latest buzz regarding Simmons and more with the regular season soon getting underway.

     

Could Simmons End Up Staying in Philadelphia?

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Even after all the reports of Simmons not wanting to play for the 76ers and hoping to be dealt, it's possible that nothing changes. That's right: The 25-year-old point guard could be playing in Philadelphia this year.

According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the 76ers are now "throwing all their short-term energy" toward getting Simmons to play for the team. He reported earlier this week, but he didn't appear in Philadelphia's preseason loss to the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, although he's now cleared health and safety protocols.

Still, it may not long before we see Simmons back in a Sixers uniform, even after all that's unfolded.

"One source close to the process indicated Friday that things are indeed trending toward Simmons playing again for the Sixers despite his well-chronicled desire to leave the organization for good and start fresh elsewhere," Stein wrote.

But Simmons will still need to get up to playing speed after missing the majority of training camp and the preseason. That means he may not play in Philadelphia's regular-season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, either.

Maybe Simmons could still get traded down the line, too. Stein also reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain highly motivated" to try to acquire Simmons, a deal that they know would likely require a third team to get involved. It may come down to whether the Timberwolves will give the 76ers what they're asking for in return.

However, it looks like Simmons will be staying with the Sixers, which seemed like an unimaginable scenario only weeks ago.

      

Is Lillard's Long-Term Future Going to Be in Portland?

As trade rumors have circulated about Simmons, one of the players who the 76ers have reportedly had interest in is Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard. But that doesn't mean the Trail Blazers want to move Lillard, who is about to begin his ninth season with the team.

Though if Portland doesn't begin to have success soon, it's possible that it will lose the commitment of its 31-year-old leader, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

"I think there's going to be a light going into this upcoming NBA season on the future of Damian Lillard, and if Portland gets off to a rough start—like, I'll tell you guys this if they're not improved under Chauncey Billups this year, they risk losing Damian Lillard long term," Charania said in a recent segment for Stadium.

Although the Trail Blazers have made the playoffs each of the past eight seasons, they've only made it past the second round once (when they reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019). And not only that, but they've been eliminated in the first round each of the past two years and four of the past five.

It's not Lillard's fault, though. The six-time All-Star and six-time All-NBA selection has continued to play at a high level and has played a key role in Portland continuing to make it to the postseason.

Last season, Lillard averaged 28.8 points, 7.5 assists and 4.2 rebounds in 67 games. And he's likely to put up more big numbers during the 2021-22 campaign.

But it will be interesting to see what the future holds for Lillard, who is under contract through the end of the 2024-25 season with a player option for that final year. If he wants to leave Portland even earlier, he would need to be traded.  

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