It appears as though some Philadelphia 76ers players are mentally preparing to move forward without All-Star guard Ben Simmons on the roster. Simmons has reportedly informed the Sixers that he wants to be traded and that he doesn’t plan to attend training camp in Philadelphia. The Sixers spent the offseason entertaining offers for Simmons, but they’ve yet to pull the trigger. At this point though, a split seems inevitable.
So, what would a Simmons trade mean for Philadelphia? Sixers guard Danny Green tried to answer that question during an appearance on Sports Illustrated’s “The Crossover” podcast. Obviously, it’s tough to explain exactly what a trade would mean for Philly without knowing what it would get in return for Simmons, but Green took a stab at it anyway.
“It’s tough to say, man because we don’t know what we’re gonna get back for him,” Green said. “We may get a point guard. We may get wings. That might change a lot. I might be playing with a different type of point guard. I might be playing with different type of wings. I might be coming off the bench. I don’t know who we’re going to get.”
Despite some obvious areas of improvement in his game, Simmons still brings a whole lot to the floor, especially on the defensive end, and that’s likely where the Sixers will miss him the most if he is ultimately moved. Simmons finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, and that was no fluke. Although Jazz center Rudy Gobert won the award, Simmons is arguably the most versatile defender in the NBA thanks to his ability to switch seamlessly and guard all five positions. The Sixers are a vastly different team without Simmons applying pressure and serving as the proverbial head of the snake, and that fact isn’t lost on Green.
“Defensively, I probably become the primary defender,” Green said. “Not that it’s an issue or a problem for me, but we have one less wing defender without [Ben]. Now it’s me and Matisse [Thybulle], not saying the other guys don’t play defense, but you talk about our main defenders, Ben was a big part of that and a part of our defense.
“Obviously, Tobias [Harris] has kicked it up a notch and has been amazing defensively for us, but Ben was DPOY for us this year. Everybody on our team, of course, we thought he, deservedly so, should have been Defensive Player of the Year. No disrespect to Rudy Gobert, he had a great year, as always, and for the last three years, but we thought Ben was able to guard one through five and set the tone for us. But if he’s gone that changes a lot, not just offensive but defensively, as well for me. It depends on what we get back in return.”
At this point, it seems like “when” and not “if” is the only remaining question regarding a Simmons trade. Like everyone else, Green is clearly curious when it comes to who the Sixers might get back in a deal. No matter who they net, they’re likely to take a hit on the defensive end, as defenders of Simmons’ caliber don’t come around every day. Green is solid on that end, but he’s also 34 years old, and he doesn’t have Simmons’ size or speed.
The difference between the two defenders was evident during the Eastern Conference semifinals against Atlanta. During that series, Green struggled to defend Hawks star guard Trae Young, while Simmons did a much more commendable job. So while the possibility exists that the Sixers could improve offensively following a Simmons trade, it’s the other end where he would really be missed.