Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is looking for a new home and some fans are imagining the guard in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform. During an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, a Western Conference executive added fuel to these wild rumors by noting that Simmons wants to go to the “three California teams.”
“Think about three months ago when the Sixers are willing to give up Ben Simmons,” the NBA executive noted. “You are like, ‘Let’s see what we have to do to get him.’ Now, the difference is Ben Simmons says he refuses to play for the Sixers. He wants to go to three California teams. There’s so much bad blood between him and the team.”
The executive’s comments have prompted photoshopped images of Simmons wearing a Lakers jersey to circulate on social media, which has become a right of passage for disgruntled stars. There are a few challenges including the fact that there are four California teams: Lakers, Clippers, Warriors and Kings. While it makes sense that the Kings would be the team excluded, the executive did not specify which California squad is not on the Sixers star’s wish list.
The Lakers Would Likely Need to Trade A.D. for Simmons, Making a Potential Deal Unrealistic
From Klutch Sports to his relationship with LeBron James, Simmons has numerous connections to the Lakers. The challenge is the only realistic trade chip the Lakers have to offer the Sixers is Anthony Davis, which is a non-starter for Los Angeles. The Simmons rumors made a little more sense prior to the Lakers trading for Russell Westbrook, but the front office is likely only going to make minor moves before the season starts in October.
Davis’ approval rating has dropped given the nagging injuries that the big man battled throughout last season, but Simmons’ trade value appears to be much lower than the Sixers would prefer. Simmons’ unwillingness to take jump shots, his poor free-throw shooting and overall mental lapses in key moments pose a lot of challenges for the Sixers to find equal value in a deal.
Russillo: ‘Ben Simmons Wants to be in L.A.’
Pompey reported that Simmons is prepared to sit out training camp until he is traded. The Ringer’s Ryen Russillo and Bill Simmons debated possible landing spots for Simmons. Russillo noted Simmons’ preference would be to join the Lakers but added it is “not happening.”
“Look, Ben Simmons wants to be in L.A., it’s not happening,” the analyst noted on The Ryen Russillo Podcast. “The Lakers’ to-do list has been completed.”
Simmons is entering the second season of a massive five-year, $177 million contract. The three-time All-Star has a $33 million salary for the 2021-22 season. James still appears to be high on Simmons as the superstar selected the Sixers guard with his second pick in the 2021 All-Star draft.
“With my second pick in the second round, I’m gonna go with Ben Simmons,” James noted in March, per Sports Illustrated. “Mr. Play hard every possession from the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Simmons may want to go to the Lakers, but there is not a plausible path to Los Angeles before the season starts. If the Westbrook experiment goes poorly, there is a slight chance the Lakers could explore adding Simmons at the trade deadline, but the guard is likely to be long gone at this point.