It turns out, there is an actual list, a sort of “Simmons list” floating around the halls of the Philadelphia 76ers’ front office. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, there are 30 NBA names on that list, and any one of the 30 would be enough to persuade the Sixers to finally fulfill the wish that Simmons expressed to the team this summer—that he wanted a trade.
If the Sixers can get one of the names on the list back for Simmons, a deal will happen. According to Amick’s article, it’s that simple. However, the 30 names include most among the best players in the league, and while none are available in a Simmons swap at the moment—or else a deal would have been done already—that could change.
A source with knowledge of the list said there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, and there’s an internal belief that a fair amount of them — let’s say five to 10 — could become available in the next year or two. And while it might sound like a long list, consider this much: It’s approximately six percent of the league and the rough equivalent to the number of All-Stars selected every season. The framing of the timeline, more than anything else, speaks volumes about the long-term approach the Sixers insist they’re taking.
Amick then quotes a source saying that, “This is like a multi-year thing.”
Big Gap Between How Sixers, Rest of NBA View Simmons
That will not be music to the ears of most Sixers fans, who have been weary of the Simmons debacle for weeks now. The idea that this could go on for another, say, 52 weeks—or, God help us, 104 weeks—does not sound appealing.
But that is the position the Sixers have clearly staked out here. Simmons is only 25 and was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft, a top prize around the league by any measure. He is a three-time All-Star in just four seasons, with career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists, a versatile player positionally on offense—at 6-foot-11, he can just as easily be a power forward as a point guard—and a stalwart on the defensive end.
The Sixers see that value and want similar value back in return. The rest of the league, though, sees a player who was scared to shoot during last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals, one who is undergoing a crisis of confidence. They also see a player who entered the league with averages of 15.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 8.2 assists as a rookie and has all bust stagnated since.
Simmons has made no significant improvements to his game in four seasons, calling into question his work ethic and commitment to the game.
At the same time, the longer the Sixers hold their position on Simmons, the more the team is wasting the prime years of big man Joel Embiid, an annual MVP candidate. If anyone could break the stalemate here, it might have to be Embiid, who is surely as tired of the saga as the rest of us.
Harden, Lillard, Beal Among the 30 Names
The disparity between how the Sixers view Simmons as a trade asset and how the rest of the league views him is what has driven the stalemate between the team and the player. But the Sixers are clearly determined to stick with the list they’ve got, which includes, according to Amick, James Harden of the Nets, Damian Lillard of the Blazers and Bradley Beal of the Wizards.
Harden can be a free agent this summer, and is expected to re-sign with the Nets. Beal could seek a long-awaited escape from Washington, but the Wizards’ surprisingly strong play thus far—at 10-4, they are leading the East—has diminished the certainty that Beal would be exiting soon. That leaves Lillard, the player the Sixers most want in exchange for Simmons.
Lillard has not yet asked Portland for a trade, but as the team has plummeted into a state of front-office turmoil recently, not to mention on-court mediocrity (they’re 8-8), the chances that Lillard asks out increase. A Lillard-Simmons swap was always going to be the tidiest way to fix the issue, if only Portland would comply.
And there was one other avenue Amick mentioned, besides the 30-player list, for a resolution to the Simmons saga—intervention from the NBA. Alas that is a long shot. Amick wrote, “A source with knowledge of the league’s view deemed its potential involvement a “last step,” while also emphasizing the fact that Simmons’ contract is not with the league but with the Sixers. As of now, it’s clear the league would strongly prefer to let the situation play out.”