Despite all reports suggesting that Ben Simmons wants to leave the Philadelphia 76ers, the team has refused to budge when it comes to price. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that the 76ers want a James Harden-esque package of draft picks and players in return for Simmons, and thus far, no team has proven willing to meet that price. With the bulk of the transactional period of the offseason now concluded, Philadelphia is going to have a much harder time finding a suitor.
One party that is still interested? The Minnesota Timberwolves. According to The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski, the Timberwolves have continued discussions with Philadelphia on a possible Simmons deal, but might need a third team to create the sort of win-now package that Philadelphia is looking for.
If Philadelphia wants a Harden-esque return of draft picks, Minnesota could theoretically accommodate them. The Timberwolves still control all of their own first-round picks, so a deal involving several and some possible swaps would be on the table. The problem for the Timberwolves is that Philadelphia still wants to win with Joel Embiid rather than take a step back as the Houston Rockets did in their Harden trade. That would likely mean, at a bare minimum, that veteran starters D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley would have to be involved in a deal as well.
Russell is the traditional pick-and-roll point guard that Philadelphia has lacked during the Simmons era, but as a close friend of Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, it is unclear if Minnesota would be willing to deal him. Beasley is similarly fraught, but for different reasons. He just completed a 78-day prison sentence after pleading guilty to threatening a family with a rifle. Krawczynski also notes that the recently-acquired Patrick Beverley who has already been involved in two trades this offseason, could factor into the equation here. He would be a fit on a win-now 76ers team, or he could head to a possible third team in the deal.
Finding the sort of win-now pieces Philadelphia would want is going to be complicated for Minnesota. The only two superstars that are seemingly on the market right now are Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard, and if their teams were ready to trade them, Philadelphia would likely be offering Simmons already. Perhaps a deal involving several lesser veterans and picks could work, but for now, even if Minnesota is the prime Simmons suitor, it appears as though a deal still isn’t close.