A little over a year ago at this time, the Chicago Bulls were being linked to Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons. Simmons was still a disgruntled member of the Philadelphia 76ers at the time, and the Bulls were looking for a deal to put them over the top.
That deal never came to fruition for a multitude of reasons, not the least of which being their depleted pool of draft capital.
But, after Simmons sat out all of last season, could his price tag be any lower?
It could depend on other circumstances beyond the Bulls’ or Simmons’ control. Then, however, it boils down to how they might view the three-time All-Star and that is where it gets particularly interesting for both sides.
Ben Simmons’ Antics Won’t Play
The Bulls were always viewed as a bit of a longshot for the 26-year-old Simmons. But the idea was still bandied about as the Bulls were fresh off of their mid-season trade for Nikola Vucevic the season before.
Simmons was fresh off an embarrassing Game 7 in the second round of the playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks and would miss the entire 2022 season with injuries.
He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets at this past season’s trade deadline.
Would there still be any interest from the Bulls for a three-time All-Defensive selection on a team with very few two-way players? Not likely, according to an Eastern Conference executive via Heavy’s Sean Deveney.
“I don’t think they’d have an interest in Simmons…I know Marc was big in drafting him but I don’t think that means he wants to take on the headache.”
Bulls general manager Marc Eversley was with the 76ers for five seasons as the vice president for player staff.
It was this connection that was among the strongest when the Bulls were rumored to have “known interest” in Matisse Thybulle. He is another Sixers All-Defensive wing who happens to share Simmons’ aversion to shooting the basketball.
Thybulle also came with having to plan around his unvaccinated status.
Logistics Don’t Work
But Simmons’ grievance filed against Philadelphia – which resulted in a settlement and a recouping of some parts of the $20 million the 76ers initially took from Simmons – is not the only red flag on this once-possible connection.
Still, even that isn’t all that would likely keep the Bulls from potentially exploring a trade for someone who is still extremely talented.
“It would cost you Lonzo Ball if they did, and they’ve given no indication they would move Lonzo,” the executive said adding, “they’re pretty well committed to him even with the injury stuff. You’d have to gut your roster–Caruso, Coby — to make it work and no one has that much faith in Ben Simmons anymore.”
Feeling is Mutual
Not only would the Bulls be unlikely to have interest at this point, but the New York Post’s Brian Lewis also reported that the chances of Simmons being shipped out are low. Simmons is still recovering from offseason back surgery but is expected to be ready for the start of next season.
“Privately, Nets sources have intimated the latter option is unlikely. And when asked if Simmons had gotten assurances he was in the Nets’ long-term plans and would not be traded, a source close to the young All-Star told The Post simply that “Ben is good.”
Berman also added that his Nets sources say there was not much of a market for him. He has three years and over $113 million remaining on his contract including over $40 million in the final year.
That is the cost of a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive pick. Simmons also earned an All-NBA selection following the 2020 season.
Still, with all that has transpired on and off of the court, it makes sense that teams would be reluctant to take a gamble on such a considerable talent. It also makes sense that the Nets would be reluctant to part with him. Given their uncertain future, he could still be a building block going forward.
It is extremely unlikely that he could be that for the Bulls at this point.