NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Ben Simmons Trade, Bradley Beal and OG Anunoby

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 22, 2021

NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Ben Simmons Trade, Bradley Beal and OG Anunoby

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Billing the NBA as the sports world's best soap opera goes beyond the in-game drama that makes basketball contests so compelling.

    There always seems to be at least one player searching for the nearest exit, and when that player happens to be a 25-year-old All-Star, the saga is intriguing enough to keep the rumor mill moving on its own.

    That's exactly the case with Ben Simmons, who has yet to be granted his desired trade away from the Philadelphia 76ers. While nothing has officially moved on that front, the two sides' attempts to gain leverage and take control of the situation has created an almost endless supply of whispers and rumblings.

    Let's get to the latest with Simmons and two other high-profile players who find themselves being talked about.

Simmons, Sixers Expected to Discuss Playing Status on Friday

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    Will he play or won't he?

    That's the question at the forefront of the 76ers franchise, as Simmons has recently been physically around the team but perhaps still absent in mind and spirit.

    If his trade value isn't where the organization wants it to be—presumably the biggest explanation why a deal isn't done—it needs him on the floor to rebuild his market. Still, it's unclear when or whether Simmons will take that step in his return.

    He is expected to discuss his playing status with "organizational leadership" on Friday, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, which will hopefully give some clarity to this situation. The Sixers want him on the court as they work on a trade away from it, and the franchise "plans to continue to levy significant fines on Simmons for missing games and violating team policies," Wojnarowski added.

Consistent Word out of Washington Is Bradley Beal Wants to Stay Put

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Any team in need of an offensive jolt or with a general desire to up its star power has surely pondered a Bradley Beal trade at some point in recent years.

    He has no direct path to championship contention with the Washington Wizards, and without a contract extension, he could enter free agency next offseason. That's essentially as deep as the logic runs behind any potential Beal deal, but it's enough to make dreamers out of rival fanbases and front offices.

    Nothing coming out of the District is fueling those hopes, though. In fact, it's doing the opposite.

    "All the signals emanating from Washington send the same message: Beal isn't looking to leave. At all," veteran NBA reporter Marc Stein wrote.

    That won't be enough to dash the dreams of Beal's most optimistic suitors. They will continue clinging to the notion that the more clear it becomes that the Wizards can't become an elite, the likelier it is Beal will start seeking out greener pastures.

    While it's possible that happens at some point, it seems more likely he will tie his future to the franchise's and hope for the best.

Raptors 'Love' OG Anunoby, a Potential Sixers Target

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    Matt Slocum/Associated Press

    In a perfect world—well, "perfect" in Philadelphia's eyes—the Sixers would be able to swap Simmons for another All-Star, be that Beal or Damian Lillard.

    But the Sixers should have known for a while that a perfect world won't be the setting for this saga. If they ever accept the fact that Simmons doesn't have the trade pull to reel in a Beal or Lillard, then Stein thinks they will look north of the border for a new target:

    "Rather than pursue a swap centered around Pascal Siakam, it is easier to see Philadelphia trying to push to acquire a rising star capable of replicating Simmons' versatility—namely OG Anunoby—who can be packaged with a playoff-tested veteran ball-handler to give the Sixers' backcourt a needed boost (Goran Dragic)."

    If you share the belief that Anunoby has a Kawhi Leonard-like ceiling, this would be a fantastic return for Philly. Anunoby could step in as the team's top on-ball stopper, Dragic could bring much-needed scoring to the backcourt and both could complement Sixers superstar Joel Embiid.

    There's just one minor snag: Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri "loves" Anunoby, which might torpedo these talks before they can get started.

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