Should the Sixers Have Interest in a Simmons Deal With the Kings?

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

The Philadelphia 76ers and the Sacramento Kings have been attached at the hip over the past few months in regards to trade rumors surrounding Ben Simmons.

Today the rumors centered around a familiar name, De'Aaron Fox. According to a report by Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes, the Sixers "canvassed the prospect" of a Simmons-Fox deal, but "dialogue remains exploratory due diligence." 

Fox is a good player, but not a good fit with the rest of the Sixers' roster. He is averaging 20.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game for the Kings this season. However, he is a poor outside shooter as evidenced by his 3-point percentage this season (24.3). The Sixers are likely looking for someone who can space the floor better than Fox.

There is also a lot of overlap between what Fox and Tyrese Maxey excel at. The second-year guard has been arguably the Sixers' second best player this season behind Joel Embiid. He is good at driving to the basket and is already a better outside shooter than Fox.

If the Sixers were to take Fox back in a Simmons trade, it would presumably be to then swing him to another team as part of a three-team trade.

Where things get more interesting is getting into if the Sixers should pull the trigger on a deal with the Kings centered around Tyrese Haliburton. At 21 years old, Haliburton is already averaging 13.9 points and 7.0 assists per game. He is also a great 3-point shooter, shooting 42.0 percent from deep on 5.0 attempts per game for his career.

One potential mock deal could involve the Sixers receiving Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, an end of the rotation player (for salary cap matching purposes, ie: Alex Len) and a first-round pick for Simmons. Barnes – averaging 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting 42.5 percent from deep – would be able to slot in at small forward. Haliburton would slide into the starting point guard spot, with Maxey moving to his more natural off-ball role at shooting guard. The Sixers would be receiving the right combination of on-court improvement this season and improved potential for the future while Sacramento would receive a young, game-changing talent to build their future around.

General manager and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey could continue to hold out in an effort to land a superstar player in return for Simmons. However, receiving a package containing Haliburton, Barnes and a draft pick would not be a bad fall back option if his efforts at getting a top-25 player fail.

If you want to make things incredibly interesting, take a look at the latest report from Marc Stein. The following is from Stein's latest substack newsletter, "The latest trade winds:"

"More than one rival team believes Sacramento, in its desire for a significant shakeup as it bumbles toward a record 16th consecutive season out of the playoffs, could be convinced to take on Tobias Harris’ contract to facilitate a Simmons deal. If the Sixers can’t get the top-flight player they covet, going ahead with a Simmons deal that enables them to shed the two years and nearly $80 million left on Harris’ contract after this season might be too enticing to resist rather than holding out for a star in return."

Getting out from under the Harris contract would certainly open up more possibilities for the Sixers this offseason. If Morey is still interested in trying to acquire James Harden, and it sounds for sure like he is, then moving Harris would be a crucial piece to creating the necessary cap space to attempt to make that move. It will obviously be incredibly difficult, most likely involving a third team, to move the roughly $70 million combined salaries of Simmons and Harris in the same trade.

There are a plethora of potential intriguing trade packages between the Sixers and Kings. Should the Sixers have any serious interest in pulling the trigger on any of them? I have previously written about the team needing to be patient with the Simmons trade market, but it looks increasingly less likely a player the caliber of Harden, Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal becomes available. In that case, I would lean towards accepting a package around Haliburton, Barnes and a first-round pick or two for Simmons.

Whatever the case, the rumor mill will surely continue to churn as the Feb. 10 trade deadline now stands 27 days away.

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