Welcome to the “Summer of Ben Simmons.” The Philadelphia 76ers enigmatic point guard has already been the subject of numerous trade rumors, including one that sends him to the Portland Trail Blazers for one of the best scorers in the NBA. It might not be the player everyone was hoping for.
The biggest prize on the Portland roster is Damian Lillard, a six-time All-Star who routinely hits three-pointers from the logo. Teams have been ringing Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey’s phone constantly since their first-round playoff exit. Problem is, Lillard hasn’t requested a trade and those close to the star guard insist he wants to stay in Portland. That leaves another interesting name for the Sixers to ponder in a potential trade: CJ McCollum.
McCollum averaged a career-high 23.1 points per game in 2021 while shooting 40.2% from deep. He’s a shooting guard so a direct swap for Simmons would leave a void in Philly’s backcourt. McCollum’s skill set is too similar to Seth Curry so they would have to make a corresponding move for a point guard.
Unless the organization feels like Tyrese Maxey is ready for a full-time role. Either way, ESPN’s Zach Lowe recently name-dropped McCollum as a potential trade target for Philadelphia (via Blazers Edge):
He would certainly make them a better offensive team, I think he would certainly fit really really well with Embiid.
I think there would have to be another move because I don’t think that you start him and Seth Curry in the same backcourt. Seth Curry has been obliterated defensively in this Hawks series. I don’t think you could start McCollum and Seth. I think that’s a name you have to consider.
I know Sixers fans will be disappointed because even a week ago they were talking about Lillard and now we’re talking about McCollum but I think you have to consider it.
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George Hill Heading to Portland?
One trade package being thrown out there was CJ McCollum and Robert Covington for Ben Simmons and George Hill, per Sam Quinn of CBS Sports. That shouldn’t stop Sixers president Daryl Morey from inquiring about Damian Lillard, though.
The Trail Blazers are expected to have at least half a dozen “better offers than Simmons” for the former Rookie of the Year. Here is why McCollum makes sense for the Sixers:
McCollum buys Embiid all of the space he needs to work in the post. He might even coax him into a more active pick-and-roll partnership. Embiid has never had a dance partner worthy of hard rolls to the rim.
Covington is where this trade lives or dies. Without him, the 76ers can’t justify the defensive downgrade. Portland would have to buy into Simmons as Lillard’s ideal partner to give up both.
Simmons Doubles Down on Staying in Philly
The fans and media were putting Simmons on the first flight out of Philly after Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. He was serenaded with chants of “Trade Ben Simmons” as he walked off the court at Wells Fargo Center.
However, that doesn’t mean the All-Star point guard wants to leave. He expects to be back in 2022.
“Yeah, I love being in Philly. I love this organization,” Simmons said. “The fans are great people. I had a bad series. I expect that (boos). It’s Philly.”