Reality has started to set in on the Philadelphia 76ers standing pat at the NBA trade deadline. Yes, Ben Simmons wants out but the Sixers are holding firm to their steep asking price. They won’t be bullied into accepting an offer not up to their standards.
The latest report had them turning down a package from the Detroit Pistons that included Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Kelly Olynyk and a first-round pick. According to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, Grant is the “grand prize of this deadline” and multiple teams have expressed interest including the Lakers, Trail Blazers, Knicks, Jazz, Wizards, Celtics, Pacers, Timberwolves, Kings.
However, Sixers president Daryl Morey continues to hold out for an All-Star in return for Simmons. Which Grant isn’t at this point in his career. The 6-foot-8 forward remains a rising star in the league — ironically, the Sixers drafted him 39th overall in 2014 — but he’s not the difference-maker needed to pair alongside Joel Embiid. Grant’s skillset is too similar to Tobias Harris who has been fighting to meet lofty expectations in Philly.
There’s also one more piece to the puzzle: Grant wants to go somewhere where he’d be the “primary offensive option,” per Fischer. He also wants to be guaranteed a lucrative contract extension from his next team, “in the ballpark of four years, $112 million this offseason.” All those things add up to make Grant a bad fit next to Embiid.
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Holding Out for James Harden?
It’s no secret that Morey has a blinding affection for James Harden. He made a run at him at last year’s deadline before talks dissipated and Harden went to Brooklyn. The Sixers were unwilling to move Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle at the time. But the 2018 MVP might be on the move again this coming offseason due to an opt-out clause in his contract. And Harden is expected to test free agency.
According to NBA reporter Marc Stein, the Sixers may just keep Simmons on the roster and make a move for Harden after the season. They could potentially work out a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn if the Nets truly want Simmons. That scenario might be Morey’s preferred direction.
Stein wrote: “Keeping Simmons beyond the trade deadline to exhaust every last possibility for executing a complicated sign-and-trade in the offseason that finally brings James Harden to Philadelphia and routes Simmons to Brooklyn.”
Embiid Not Looking to Change Anything
The Sixers are rolling right now (aside from Monday’s 117-98 loss) despite all the trade rumors and COVID-19 problems. Philadelphia has gone 9-2 since December 26 while holding down the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. Things have taken a positive turn and some players don’t want to risk disrupting the chemistry.
“I don’t think we’ve played our best basketball yet,” Embiid said following a 111-99 win over Boston. “We’ve still got a long way to go. We’re missing guys here and there that could really help us. There’s really no urgency to change anything. I think we’ve got everything we need. We’ve got to keep on going, and I’m happy.”
Trading Simmons for Grant (or anyone else) would reset the clock. The Sixers are 21-9 this season at full health, with their projected starting five coming out of training camp. Stay the course.