As Ben Simmons, Damian Lillard buzz swirls, what’s Sixers’ best approach?

As Simmons, Lillard buzz continues, what’s Sixers’ finest technique? initially appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers’ No. 25 turns 25 years of ages on Tuesday.

At the minute, Ben Simmons appears to be amongst the dominant stories in the NBA, even with a champ not yet chosen and the NBA draft under 10 days away. 

Damian Lillard remains in the exact same boat. The possibility of a high-drama handle which the Blazers super star and Simmons swap groups is remarkable to think about, and it doesn’t appear out of the concern. 

On Tuesday, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that the “Heat, Kings, Knicks, Rockets, and Sixers have recently been the most aggressive suitors” for Lillard. Nevertheless, O’Connor notes “few team executives expect a Dame deal to happen this offseason.”

A short summary of the current with Lillard is that he’s not delighted with the state of the Blazers franchise and Portland’s potential customers at title contention, though he called a TrueHoop report recently that he was anticipated to ask for a sell the coming days “not true.”

O’Connor presumes a CJ McCollum-for-Simmons offer as one that might benefit both the Sixers and Blazers. It’s a sensible concept, particularly if one purchases the concept that McCollum, who will commemorate his 30th birthday in September, will strike his prime. Though McCollum would presume a more popular offending function if he headed to the Sixers, that line of believing may be a little bit positive. 

He’s a very good player, one who’s exceeded 20 points per game in six consecutive seasons, but is he poised to make mid-career strides as a defender and passer like Tobias Harris this past season? If one is searching for positive signs, McCollum’s 0.80 assist-to-usage ratio in the 2020-21 campaign was a career high, per Cleaning the Glass. His excellent 6.4 turnover percentage was also a career best.

However, Portland’s defense has mostly ranged from mediocre to among the NBA’s worst in recent years, and the Lillard-McCollum backcourt is a big reason why that’s the case. The defensive decline of replacing Simmons with McCollum would be difficult to overstate. 

All-Star selections aren’t everything but, barring some magic from president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, the Sixers’ starting lineup would have one All-Star after a McCollum-for-Simmons trade. Of course that All-Star, Joel Embiid, was just the MVP runner-up, and Harris and McCollum are two of the NBA’s top players that have yet to play in an All-Star Game. 

Still, the fundamental (and logical) objective for the Sixers is to give Embiid the best chance at a championship in his best years. A patient approach that lands a true star likely accomplishes that goal better than anything else, even if it temporarily depletes the Sixers’ depth. Plus, playing with Lillard and Embiid sounds rather enjoyable for veterans pondering their next team.

Superstar trades don’t spontaneously come to be. There’s usually extensive planning involved, and often a lot of waiting.

To land Lillard, the Sixers may need to enter the 2021-22 season with Simmons still on the roster and hope he’s a better player in half-court offense and a less woeful foul shooter. No guarantees, but it’s not at all an impossible bar to clear. If he does, perhaps that boosts his trade value a little bit, although Simmons’ improving as a shooter might not be very persuasive in light of the league recognizing his weaknesses were most troublesome in the postseason.

Morey’s options aren’t limitless, however he’s got a couple of crucial choices on his plate. None of it’s a no-brainer.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.