Sixers’ Playoff Nemesis Open to Jumping Ship: Report

Bradley Beal, Russell Westbrook

Getty Wizards stars Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are down 2-0 to the Sixers in their first-round playoff series.

It looked like Bradley Beal was committed to the Washington Wizards after denying trade rumors all year. Maybe not. Beal is considering requesting a trade prior to Thursday night’s NBA draft, per Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer. And the Philadelphia 76ers are on his shortlist.

If there was ever a player that could potentially put Philly over the second-round playoff hump, it’s Beal. He averaged 30.0 points per game during Washington’s first-round playoff loss to Philly after finishing the 2020-21 campaign as the NBA’s second-leading scorer (31.1). The three-time All-Star could be interested in joining an “established winning environment,” per Fischer, and mentioned four teams: Sixers, Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors.

Any proposed deal involving the Sixers would most likely include Ben Simmons and a combination of young players (see: Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle) and draft picks. But Beal — outside of Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard — might be the only guy capable of instantly elevating his new team into championship contenders. Fischer wrote the following:

Beal does not have a proverbial list of preferred destinations, but it was mentioned by multiple sources that he would welcome joining teams such as Boston, Golden State, Miami or Philadelphia — although Beal requesting a trade would all but guarantee an expansive bidding war across the league. The number of potential destinations and interested suitors could span a significant portion of the NBA.

“Beal’s the guy right now,” one assistant general manager said. “The one guy that could be available, that could help you win the whole thing.”

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Toronto Raptors in Play for Simmons?

Here’s a dark horse franchise to keep an eye on in the Simmons’ sweepstakes: the Toronto Raptors. According to Marc Stein, the Guardians of the North have “expressed some interest in trying to find a way to get Ben Simmons.” The comments came during a recent interview on Chad Ford’s NBA Big Board podcast.

The Raptors don’t have a huge budget, but Kyle Lowry’s $30 million contract is coming off the books and certainly helps. Toronto is also stocked with trade assets, including All-Star forward Pascal Siakam and the No. 4 overall pick in this year’s draft. They could conceivably be in the mix for Simmons, Beal, or Lillard.

Sixers ‘Underwhelmed’ with Trade Offers

Early reports suggested that rival front-office executives were laughing at Simmons’ poor play in the Eastern Conference semifinals, happily watching his stock plummet in the hopes of submitting a low-ball offer. And that is exactly how it has played out as the Sixers continue to hold out for an All-Star player in return.

Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck confirmed those “transparent attempts to lower Simmons’ value” and doubled down on the Sixers’ desire not to give their three-time All-Star away for nothing. For example, any proposed trade from the Sacramento Kings would be a non-starter without De’Aaron Fox.

“The Sixers are uninterested in packages returning multiple role players and picks in exchange for Simmons, according to a source familiar with the situation,” Neubeck wrote. “As one specific example, a source told Philly Voice the Sixers would not even entertain a discussion with the Sacramento Kings save for the inclusion of guard De’Aaron Fox in a potential deal, which they view simply as a starting point for talks.”

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