It did not take long for the Los Angeles Lakers to be mentioned in the ongoing Ben Simmons trade rumors. The Sixers star has been the subject of criticism since Philadelphia was upset in the second round by Atlanta. Sixers head coach Doc Rivers left the door open for a possible postseason trade, and ESPN’s Max Kellerman sees the Lakers as the best fit for Simmons.
“So, where could he go to get fixed?” Kellerman asked on First Take. “Magic [Johnson] was on the show yesterday, and I was saying, ‘Which coach could fix him?’ And Magic was talking about a veteran player. Well, who’s his agent? Rich Paul, Klutch Sports, right? Where might they be able to swing a trade, especially now that he’s so devalued? The Lakers, maybe it’s LeBron James whose game Simmons resembles in certain ways, in many ways in fact. Maybe that’s where he has to go to get the proper kind of veteran guidance with a chance to win and a franchise where maybe he eventually gets the keys. I think he’s fixable, guys. It cannot occur in Philadelphia.”
Here is the clip of Kellerman making a strong argument for the Lakers to trade for Simmons.
Simmons Has a Close Relationship with James
Simmons has a close relationship with James and the two players share the same Klutch Sports connection. The Lakers ended the season with six players who are represented by Klutch. Simmons has hit a rough patch on the court, but James has been complimentary of the Sixers star throughout his career.
“You have an opportunity, to be better than me,” James told Simmons in 2017, per Sports Illustrated. “But you can’t skip steps. You have to do the work.”
During the same 2017 Sports Illustrated story, Simmons referred to their relationship as “brothers.” Simmons went on to describe it as an “amazing feeling” to be close to James.
“We’re definitely brothers,” Simmons noted, per Sports Illustrated. “I got a lot of respect for him, just coming through college, high school. Looking up to him and then being able to compete against somebody like that — and me progressing my game to playing [at] the same level [as LeBron] and compete with the best — it’s an amazing feeling.”
Rivers on Simmons Being a Championship-Caliber Player: ‘I Don’t Know the Answer to That’
Simmons struggled from the free-throw line against the Hawks shooting just 33.3% in the series. The Sixers guard passed up numerous open looks in the playoffs, including in critical fourth-quarter situations. Rivers expressed skepticism when asked whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Rivers said, per CBS Sports.
Rivers has since walked back his comments a bit expressing confidence in Simmons. The All-Star clearly has connections to the Lakers, but the team is going to find it challenging to pull off a deal for Simmons within the salary cap constraints. The Lakers are not dealing James or Davis and have limited draft capital to offer the 76ers. Kyle Kuzma represents the Lakers’ only other viable tradeable asset but a package centered around the forward and picks is likely unappealing for the Sixers.
Windhorst: ‘There’s a Lot of Interest in Ben Simmons’
Simmons has four seasons remaining on a massive five-year, $177 million contract. Despite his contract and recent struggles, ESPN’s Brian Windhorst believes at least a dozen teams would make offers for Simmons this offseason.
“In talking to executives around the league, there’s a lot of interest in Ben Simmons,” Windhorst explained, via Hoops Hype. “If he was made available on the market today, there would be maybe up to a dozen teams would make offers.”