Could the Los Angeles Clippers shock the NBA world and pull off a trade for Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons?
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported on September 21 that Simmons isn’t going to training camp this year, and he apparently has no desire to play for the 76ers again. Shams Charania of The Athletic revealed in a July 13 report that the Sixers’ asking price for Simmons in a trade was “an All-Star-caliber player in return,” but Philly has not been able to move the disgruntled point guard in the few months since.
A late-August report by Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer saying Simmons wanted to play in California has just been confirmed by Farbod Esnaashari of Sports Illustrated, who has added an additional wrinkle: Simmons is interested in playing for the Clippers, specifically.
There’s Clearly Some Smoke, But is There Fire?
Per Esnaashari, “Sources have confirmed to AllClippers that Ben Simmons does have interest in the Clippers, confirming Keith Pompey’s report.” Esnaashari then laid out the team’s options: “The Clippers have two options to play out in this situation: 1. Do they wait for the lowest possible offer they can get for Ben Simmons? 2. Do they pull the trigger knowing that Simmons will likely go to one of their direct competitors in the Pacific Divison?”
Simmons has averaged 33.9 minutes per game over his four-year career, scoring 15.9 points while also hauling in 8.1 rebounds and dishing out 7.7 assists a game. He has made 56% of his shots from the floor, but his three-point shooting has been notoriously bad (he has hit just 14.7% of his career attempts from downtown). With Kawhi Leonard out of the lineup indefinitely, a splash addition like Simmons would be equal parts unexpected and intriguing. Still, it’s highly unlikely.
“In all likelihood, the Clippers will not blow up their team in a hasty offer for Ben Simmons,” Esnaashari wrote. “Even if they trade for him, the team will only go as far as Kawhi Leonard’s health will take them. The team does not have the assets to meet Morey’s demands for Simmons, but they do have some leverage in knowing Ben Simmons does not want to play for the Sixers again.”
What if the 76ers’ Asking Price Goes Down?
Well, that could be very good for the Clippers — if they’re interested.
Would the 25-year-old point guard be a good fit with the Clips? Absolutely. In a panel discussion on the subject of a potential Clippers trade for Simmons, Andrew Greif of The Los Angeles Times laid out exactly why Simmons could be just the security head coach Ty Lue and company need over the next several years:
The Clippers have the kind of ecosystem where Simmons’ strengths could thrive and his weaknesses be covered, to a degree, because of the sheer number of shooters with whom they could surround Simmons. Paul George, Kawhi Leonard (when he returns from his knee injury), Nicolas Batum, Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris, Serge Ibaka, on and on — their collective perimeter threats, in theory, make Simmons’ lack of one less worrisome. Take a minute to think about the small-ball lineups that coach Tyronn Lue deployed in the last postseason that helped push the Clippers to their first conference finals, with Simmons added in. You think Lue could make use of another tall, switchable defender? The 25-year-old is also under contract for four more seasons — ensuring the roster would have a young, All-Star talent as George and Leonard age. There would also be some familiarity: Clippers rookie Brandon Boston Jr. and Simmons share an agency and worked out together this offseason.
There’s no question the situation with Simmons has the attention of all California-based teams. As it should. But if no deal gets worked out with, say, the Golden State Warriors — who remain the likeliest contenders for his services — and Philadelphia is open to lowering its asking price, the Clippers could enter the fray. It’s a long shot, but with Esnaashari confirming Simmons’ Interest in the Clippers, specifically, it’s something Clipper Nation should definitely monitor moving forward.