Even with the postseason still in play, the NBA offseason is active with reporting and trade rumors, and the Chicago Bulls have found themselves in the middle of it all.
And the latest speculation surrounding Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers is no exception.
The former first overall pick is the subject of all trade rumors after he and his team fell out in Game Seven to the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday night.
Simmons shot 25-of-73 from the free-throw line this postseason, putting the 76ers in complexing crunch-time situations, which ultimately saw them eliminated prematurely.
Now, the obvious answer for Philadelphia is cashing in on the 24-year old, who’s under contract through 2025.
Odds are out on where Ben Simmons might play next.
And the Chicago Bulls are among the betting favorites.
Bulls Considered Suitor for Simmons?
Only days removed from the Philadelphia 76ers premature end to their 2020-2021 season, there’s no indication as to whether or not they’ll explore trading the All-Star.
But sportsbooks went hard to work immediately following that Game Seven loss, releasing odds for both Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid’s most likely landing spots, should they be traded.
While the Chicago Bulls weren’t initially featured, they’ve climbed the rankings, according to Action Network’s Matt Moore, in his latest piece detailing the NBA’s latest trade saga:
Chicago is currently listed at +1200. Whether a deal would include Zach LaVine or instead focus on other pieces, potentially Coby White, isn’t known. Even before that, it’s not known if Chicago genuinely has interest in Simmons, though his fit as a defensive upgrade and playmaker next to LaVine and Nikola Vucevic makes a great deal of sense.
The Washington Wizards are Moore’s personal favorite to land the former first overall pick, but him staying in Philadelphia (-125) or being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers (+450) have better odds.
Regardless, nothing’s yet come out to tie the two sides directly, the Bulls and Simmons.
But if they were able to pull off a deal without including All-Star guard Zach LaVine, there’s more reason than not for Arturas Karnisovas to pull the trigger.
Simmons next to rookie Patrick Williams would make for the foundations of a top-five defense. The two players, one not yet 20 years old mind you, share a unique versatility on that end of the ball.
Those are just the kind of guys you want to surround an offensive-heavy player like LaVine with. And Vucevic too, who notably knocks down three-pointers at a more consistent rate than Simmons’ current big-man teammate Joel Embiid.
But, as one former NBA executive tells it, a deal for Ben Simmons that doesn’t involve Zach LaVine relocating is unlikely.
Former NBA Exec Proposes LaVine for Simmons Swap
In his latest piece for The Athletic, John Hollinger discussed the situation that now faces the Philadelphia 76ers, and whether or not it’s worth exploring the trade market for Ben Simmons.
Ultimately, the former Memphis Grizzlies’ executive concluded that it wouldn’t be worth the trouble (at least this summer) after thumbing through the kinds of players that a trade return might feature.
Unless it meant landing Zach LaVine:
This takes us to one final option, the one that maybe doesn’t seem like the most appetizing at first, but the one that ultimately might be Philly’s best chance of salvaging this era…Zach LaVine.
Hollinger cited the All-Star’s contract situation as a potential motivator for Chicago:
Chicago is in a tough spot with a potential extension on him, either needing to cut back on offseason moves to do a renegotiation-and-extend or let him play out his walk year and hope it can re-sign him at or near the max.
LaVine is coming off of a career seventh season, in which he averaged 27.4 points, five rebounds, and 4.9 assists.
But as was reported by A. Sherrod Blakely of Bleacher Report, he’s expected to refute any and all extension attempts this summer, with eyes on becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2022:
That’s why rival executives anticipate the Bulls will try to lock up LaVine with a contract extension (he will make $19.5 million this season and next) but know he’ll likely let his deal lapse, become an unrestricted free agent and sign what will be a more lucrative multiyear max pact.
But is that enough to drive them to trade the first of their two All-Stars?