We have some more news on the Ben Simmons front.
Now a month into the “Ben Simmons saga,” The Athletic’s Sam Amick provided some updates on where things stand between the 76ers and the three-time All-Star.
Perhaps the most interesting tidbit in Amick’s report is that there is said to be “approximately 30 players” who would satisfy the 76ers in a trade for Simmons, adding that a “fair amount” of them could become available at some point over the next two years.
Three in particular that Amick named as being high on Philadelphia’s list: Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and James Harden.
That begs the question: Who could the other 27 players be?
What we do know about the 76ers is that they’re looking to get a star in return for Simmons. Additionally, we can probably assume that they’re more interested in acquiring a wing rather than a big because they’re currently being built around one of the best centers in the league in Joel Embiid. That means no Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic or Rudy Gobert. We can probably cross the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Julius Randle and Zion Williamson off the list as well.
Who are some of the players who check those two boxes? In no particular order…
The 30 trade targets who could be on Philadelphia’s list for Ben Simmons
The super-duper stars
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks
2. Stephen Curry, Warriors
3. Kevin Durant, Nets
4. LeBron James, Lakers
5. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers
6. Luka Doncic, Mavericks
Otherwise known as the players every team around the league would want on their roster. The problem? They’re almost certainly untouchable. This is a quick hang-up.
7. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers
8. Bradley Beal, Wizards
9. James Harden, Nets
The three players who appear to be at the top of Philadelphia’s list. TBD on whether or not they ever become available.
The veteran stars
10. Chris Paul, Suns
11. Anthony Davis, Lakers
12. Jimmy Butler, Heat
13. Kyle Lowry, Heat
14. Khris Middleton, Bucks
15. Kyrie Irving, Nets
16. Paul George, Clippers
17. DeMar DeRozan, Bulls
Multi-time All-Stars who have been in the league for a decade-plus.
They might not be completely off-limits like the first group, but it’s still hard to imagine any of these players being traded anytime soon.
The one name that stands out, of course, is Irving, who remains away from the Nets until he complies with local health and safety protocols. As The Sporting News’ Jordan Greer detailed, Irving would be an ideal fit next to Embiid offensively, but there are a number of reasons why an Irving-Simmons swap wouldn’t work.
Chief among them? Irving can become an unrestricted free agent following this season and there’s no guarantee he’d stick with Philly long-term.
The young stars
18. Donovan Mitchell, Jazz
19. Devin Booker, Suns
20. Trae Young, Hawks
21. Brandon Ingram, Pelicans
22. Jayson Tatum, Celtics
23. Jaylen Brown, Celtics
24. Zach LaVine, Bulls
The next generation, each of whom has earned at least one All-Star selection.
Again, it’s hard to see many of these players being traded anytime soon, but The Athletic’s Shams Charania recently reported that the Celtics had “expressed interest” in Simmons and that any potential Simmons deal would “have to” include Jaylen Brown.
Talks between the 76ers and Celtics were said to be “fluid with no traction as of yet.”
For what it’s worth, Brown and LaVine were included in a couple of potential trade packages for Simmons I presented to some members of our staff before the start of the season. Representing both the Celtics and Bulls, TSN’s Kyle Irving shot them both down emphatically.
The next up stars
25. Ja Morant, Grizzlies
26. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Thunder
27. LaMelo Ball, Hornets
28. Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves
Four players who have yet to make an All-Star team but have All-Star potential. It would probably take a lot for their teams to even think about trading them.
29. Jamal Murray, Nuggets
30. De’Aaron Fox, Kings
Murray hasn’t earned an All-Star selection and continues to be out as he recovers from tearing his left ACL, but he’s proven himself to be big-time in the playoffs.
As for Fox, he hasn’t earned an All-Star selection either and is off to a slow start this season, but he’s one of the league’s better young point guards. Fox alone wouldn’t get the deal done, but the Kings have some other players they could include in a deal that could interest the 76ers.