Breaking Down the Latest Simmons News: Should the 76ers Pull the Trigger on a Simmons for McCollum Deal?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers have been at the center of the rumor mill for the last few months. With no end in sight for the Ben Simmons drama, the rumor mill will continue to be extremely active surrounding the team over the coming weeks and months.

The latest Simmons-related news comes from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. In a piece centered around the latest news coming out of the Portland Trail Blazers camp, Charania and Amick dropped in that All-Star Damian Lillard would like Portland to make a trade for Simmons.

Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Trail Blazers’ league-worst defense would instantly improve, and sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter could work given Lillard’s high-volume usage.

Sources say the Trail Blazers, under Olshey, discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia. The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected. Olshey maintained significant confidence in the roster he constructed. Now, it’s unclear if there’s a deal to be had with the 76ers. But with Olshey out, who among chair Jody Allen, vice chair Bert Kolde and Cronin would be the one making the call on a Simmons trade or any acquisition designed to alleviate Lillard’s concerns? (The Athletic)

The most important piece of information for the Sixers is that Lillard would like the Trail Blazers to swing a trade to bring Simmons to Portland. If Philadelphia were to do that, the return in the trade would be centered around guard CJ McCollum.

McCollum brings some things to the table that would help the 76ers improve on the floor. He brings a good combination of shooting efficiency and high volume, averaging 20-plus points per game every season since 2015-16. He takes nearly 20 shots per game and is not afraid to have the ball in his hands late in the game, although he has not received much opportunity in that area due to being paired with Lillard, who often dominates late in games. His floor spacing ability, as evidenced by his 39.7 career percentage from beyond the arc, combined with an above average ability to drive to the basket would make him a good fit with superstar Joel Embiid.

However, there are some flaws in McCollum's game and his fit with the rest of the roster. He is only a slightly above average facilitator, averaging 4.5 assists per game over the past three seasons. He stacks up as one of many players the Sixers already have on their roster, someone who is capable of filling in at the point guard position on occasion but not a permanent fix. He does show a ton of promise in the pick-and-roll, but that is not something the 76ers run a lot of with Embiid.

On the defensive end, McCollum will not help alleviate any of the team's defensive issues. Having him replace Simmons in the lineup would obviously be a massive downgrade defensively. However, he can play some solid defense on occasion, but he will not be able to anchor a defense and is liable to get taken advantage of at times on that end of the floor.

With all that being said, should general manager Daryl Morey pull the trigger on a Simmons-McCollum swap?

The answer is a resounding no at this stage. With the NBA trade market beginning to open up, Morey should remain patient with the Simmons trade market. Morey has long been linked to Lillard ever since the news came out about Simmons wanting out of Philadelphia. With Portland recently undergoing some major changes in their front office (firing general manager and president of basketball operations Neil Olshey), the recently stagnant chances of Lillard becoming available could grow, and Morey should be right there waiting as one of the top suitors.

Between McCollum's imperfect fit on the roster and his lofty contract (between $30.8 million and $35.8 million per season through 2023-24), receiving him as a centerpiece in a Simmons trade just does not make enough sense right now for the 76ers. While the report by Charania and Amick references the 76ers also getting picks and a young player (Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons), the overall trade package would just not fit what Morey has said he is looking for – an impact All-Star player.

Go to top button