If the Philadelphia 76ers are going to trade Ben Simmons for anybody on the Portland Trail Blazers, it’s going to be Damian Lillard. The possibility of the Sixers settling for a Simmons-for-CJ McCollum swap has been floated consistently — and a recent report that suggested Lillard wanted to play with Simmons pushed such speculation into overdrive — but as of now, that’s not going to happen.
The Sixers haven’t spoken to Portland in recent weeks, and the team isn’t currently interested in McCollum as the centerpiece of a return in a trade for Simmons, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBS Sports. Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice first reported on the Sixers’ stance regarding McCollum on Monday night. The Sixers will continue to keep their options open leading up to the trade deadline on Feb. 10.
The addition of McCollum, who is now sidelined indefinitely with a pneumothorax, would improve the Sixers in the present, as it would provide them with a player capable of generating his own offense from the perimeter. However, the team would still lack a true point guard as McCollum has played off the ball over the course of his career, and a three-guard rotation of McCollum, Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey would leave a lot to be desired on the defensive end for Philadelphia. While he’s better on the offensive end, McCollum is nowhere near the defender that Simmons is, so the Sixers are right to have reservations about acquiring him.
Plus, the Sixers are still practicing patience. On Dec. 15, players that signed with new teams over the offseason will become available to be included in trades for the first time, and that should expand the pool of potential possibilities when it comes to a Simmons trade. The Sixers will have from then until February’s trade deadline to make a move. If they fail to do so before the deadline, they’ll have to wait until over the offseason.
We’ve reached the point in the season where teams have looked at themselves in the mirror for long enough, and for some, the reflection isn’t pretty. Earlier today it was reported that the Indiana Pacers are basically ready to blow it all up, and Lillard’s future in Portland following the exit of general manager Neil Olshey has quickly become one of the hottest topics in the league again. The Sixers are holding out hope that he requests a trade in the near future. A big-time shakeup could be coming in Sacramento, too. So, holding on to Simmons continues to look like a prudent move for Philly.
That prudence has an expiration date, though, because if the Sixers don’t trade Simmons before the deadline, it would go against the stated goal of maximizing Embiid’s prime. There were two things that were clear in Philadelphia’s 127-124 overtime victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night. The first thing is that Embiid is still an absolute beast, and the second is that he needs some help.
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The Sixers are obviously getting nothing from Simmons now production-wise, and the team would absolutely benefit from an infusion of new talent. The Sixers are a playoff team as currently constructed, but they could quickly rejoin the legitimate contender conversation with some added perimeter threats sprinkled in around Embiid.
If no perfect deal materializes between now and the deadline, perhaps the Sixers will change their stance regarding McCollum, but for now they can continue to be patient and hope that a more attractive opportunity presents itself.