More than a quarter of the way into the 2021-22 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers continue to lack clarity on the Ben Simmons front. The disconnect between the franchise and the former No. 1 overall pick has grown to the point that Sixers coach Doc Rivers won’t even discuss Simmons anymore.
“I literally don’t even talk about it,” Rivers said, via All 76ers’ Justin Grasso. “I coach the team and the guys that I can see every day. I let Daryl [Morey] and Elton [Brand] deal with all of the other stuff.”
However, Philly is far from the only club with a situation on its hands. On the other side of the country, the Portland Trail Blazers just fired GM Neil Olshey and the team, well… let’s just say that it’s not doing anything to convince Damian Lillard that the Pacific Northwest is the place to be.
One analyst believes that the two teams could help each other solve their respective predicaments, though, by executing a Simmons-centric trade. And while the proposed move wouldn’t see Dame Time descend upon the Wells Fargo Center, it could nonetheless be a real winner for the Sixers.
O’Connor: Blazers Should Deal Lillard’s Running Mate (& Whatever Else It Takes) for Simmons
In the latest episode of The Void on The Ringer’s YouTube channel, noted hoops scribe Kevin O’Connor broke down the various shortcomings of the Blazers as currently constituted. As he sees it, however, there’s a relatively easy fix to be made that could reverse the fortunes of the 11-12 team.
They need to swing CJ McCollum for Ben Simmons.
“To me, the big move is blatantly obvious; it’s doing what it takes to go get Ben Simmons by building a significant trade package around CJ McCollum,” O’Connor declared.
He continued, referencing an October Shams Charania report that the Sixers had asked the Blazers for McCollum, three first-round picks and three first-round pick swaps in exchange for Simmons. At the time, it was a scenario dismissed by many as Morey having an unreasonable asking price for a flawed player.
Still, O’Connor sees it as a sign that there may be something to be done, even if some negotiation is required.
“It was Portland who denied, but Philly made the offer, so negotiations indicate that there’s at least some level of interest on Philadelphia’s end in receiving McCollum,” he posited.
The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!
A Win-Win Move
O’Connor raved about Simmons’ potential fit in Portland, opining that the Aussie could be “the Draymond to Dame’s Steph.” And given Simmons’ unique combination of speed, size, court vision, passing and defensive prowess, he may not be wrong.
However, McCollum could be an equally good fit with the Sixers.
Although Tyrese Maxey has played at a near All-Star level this season, putting up 17.2 points and 4.9 assists per game, the Sixers would find themselves with a backcourt trio for the ages if McCollum joined him and Seth Curry in Philly. Keeping all three men happy in terms of their minutes and touches could be a challenge but Rivers would have the ability to play a small-ball lineup that could dominate offensively.
And McCollum would instantly be one of the team’s top three players. He also has a wealth of playoff experience, which is exactly what the Sixers need as they seek to make good on their title aspirations.
Through 23 games this season, McCollum is averaging 20.4 points, 4.4 assists and 4.3 rebounds per contest. He’s also a 39.6% three-point shooter.