Proposed Trade Lands Sixers Young Cavs Star for Ben Simmons: B/R

Ben Simmons

Getty Ben Simmons, Sixers.

The 2021-22 NBA season is well underway, and the Philadelphia 76ers still face a situation where Ben Simmons has yet to suit up for game action. With ongoing speculation regarding a potential trade involving the three-time All-Star, could the Cleveland Cavaliers successfully reach an agreement on a trade? 

Bleacher Report’s Greg Swartz proposed a trade on October 23 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Philadelphia 76ers featuring Simmons in part of a “panic trade” early in the season. 

Regarding fit for Simmons alongside the Cavaliers’ franchise-cornerstones Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, Swartz likes what he sees for the group’s potential. 

“Simmons could be the piece that ties everything together with his playmaking and defense, allowing Darius Garland and Evan Mobley to become the primary scorers in Cleveland.” Swartz wrote.

In this proposed trade scenario, the sole player or asset being sent to the Cavaliers would be Simmons. Meanwhile, the 76ers would receive Collin Sexton and Kevin Love along with a 2022 first-round pick (top-3 protected) and 2024 first-round pick (top-3 protected).

Would Daryl Morey Come Down On Asking Price?

Throughout Simmons’ attempt to get traded by the 76ers, much has been made about the lofty asking price president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has sought to get a deal done. In fact, there was initially reporting comparing Morey’s asking price to the return the Houston Rockets received for James Harden. 

“One GM described it to me as (James) Harden-esque, similar to what Houston wanted in the talks that led to them trading Harden to Brooklyn,” ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported in July. 

The main goal for Morey is to either land an elite talent like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal, but neither player has yet become dissatisfied with their respective team enough to request to be traded — placing the 76ers in a holding pattern. 

Swartz acknowledged the 76ers’ desires to land an elite-level player like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal in a potential trade involving Simmons. 

“It’s no secret that Philly fans would like to see Simmons traded literally anywhere, as the relationship between the city and the All-Star guard is unrepairable at this point.

“Still, there has to be some value back in return, even if it’s not on the Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal level like team president Daryl Morey would likely prefer.”

If the 76ers were to land Collin Sexton and Kevin Love as the main pieces involved in a trade offer for Simmons, it isn’t easy to envision the 76ers having interest. Philadelphia needs to win now while Joel Embiid is in his prime — seemingly making it necessary to land a superstar in return for Simmons.

Would Philadelphia 76ers Want To Pay Collin Sexton?

If the 76ers hold onto Simmons and no superstar talent requests a trade in the process, the team could be prompted to consider a lesser return in a trade scenario. Would they have an interest in what the Cleveland Cavaliers have to offer? 

Before such a question can be answered, it’s crucial to consider the context that after the 2021-22 season, Collin Sexton is set to reach restricted free agency due to failure to agree on a contract extension with the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Sexton, who is coming off a 2020-21 season featuring averages of 24.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.4 assists in 35.3 minutes per game, has made strides in his development as a player. However, for the talented scorer he has shown himself to be there are some have concerns about his lack of playmaking in the passing department for a guard.

In terms of Sexton’s fit, Swartz believes that Sexton’s scoring is precisely what the 76ers need next to Joel Embiid as a co-star. He feels as though Sexton’s improvements in passing are sufficient. 

“Getting Sexton as the centerpiece (24.3 points, 4.4 assists last season) gives Philadelphia a talented second scorer next to Joel Embiid,” Swartz wrote. “Sexton has improved as a passer in his four years and isn’t afraid to take big shots at the end of games. His 42 points carried the Cavaliers over the Brooklyn Nets’ Big Three last season in a double-overtime thriller.”

In Swartz’s trade scenario, the Sixers would receive Kevin Love in addition to Sexton. Per Spotrac, Love is set to earn over $29.4 million during the 2022-23 season — the same season Sexton would be in the first year of his next contract. 

In comparison, Simmons is slated to receive over $35.4 million in 2022-23  — only $6 million more than Love. The financial outlook becomes complicated when factoring in Sexton’s next contract, who appears primed to command robust compensation on his next deal.

With Tobias Harris already holding down the power forward position as the highest-paid player on the 76ers, it seems highly unlikely for Philadelphia to be content with taking on Love’s hefty contract. The desire to acquire Sexton in a trade for Simmons would need to be significant to justify taking on Love’s contract. 

Sexton is sidelined with a torn left meniscus and has been ruled out indefinitely — adding complication to a trade scenario that involved him as a pivotal component.