Before using the trade machine to deal Ben Simmons to every other team in the NBA became Philadelphia 76ers fans’ favorite new pastime, the Philly faithful were more concerned with bringing another star player in. Ahead of the trade deadline in March, that player was usually Toronto Raptors star Kyle Lowry.
The Sixers themselves were heavily involved in Lowry trade chatter as well. At one point, a move bringing the North Philly native home was even said to be “on the one-yard line,” per SportsNet’s Michael Grange.
In the end, though, Lowry stayed with the Raptors and the Sixers acquired George Hill instead.
At the time, it was assumed that Toronto’s high asking price was the reason no deal came to fruition. However, a new report has indicated that Sixers president Daryl Morey may have had another reason for balking at a Lowry trade.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
O’Connor: Morey Is Thinking Bigger Than Kyle Lowry
On Monday, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor broke down the Sixers’ Simmons conundrum after his poor performance directly informed their shocking series loss to the Atlanta Hawks. In the piece, he opined that the franchise needs to find a solution after “yet another playoff flameout.”
He noted that some GMs around the league felt that Morey had already missed an opportunity to bring in support for Simmons and Co. in Lowry. However, he further revealed that a “consensus” of decision-makers league-wide shared the same theory as to why the six-time All-Star didn’t land with the Sixers.
Simply put, Morey looked to be aiming higher.
“Opinions differ on Philadelphia’s decision not to pursue Lowry harder, but there is a consensus around the league that Morey resisted because he’s angling for an even greater star. He’s thinking about stars like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal becoming available. CJ McCollum or Zach LaVine could also appeal to Philadelphia if they are put on the table.”
The league insider further declared that Morey is a “star hunter,” but noted that Simmons’ trade value may have plummeted to the point where acquiring a player better than Lowry could be a tall order.
Simmons’ Value at an All-Time Low?
Make no mistake about it — Simmons’ struggles swung the series for the Hawks. The former No. 1 overall pick’s lack of a jump shot has been a hot topic on the hoops blogosphere since before his rookie season. However, his inability to make free throws and lack of aggressiveness offensively are new dimensions.
Over the course of the seven-game series, Simmons attempted just three total field goals during the fourth quarter. And, as noted by StatMuse via Twitter, his 34.2% free throw conversion rate was the percentage ever in a single playoffs (minimum 70 attempts).
These numbers would be a problem for any starting-caliber player in the NBA. However, they become much worse when you’re talking about an All-Star floor general, who is counted on by his team to handle the ball and orchestrate an offensive attack.
Consequently, the Sixers were unable to make good on their championship potential with Simmons running the show. And other teams around the Association who could make a trade play for Simmons are undoubtedly asking themselves if the same problems would follow him to their teams.