Reports first surfaced last week that the Minnesota Timberwolves “badly” want Ben Simmons. They want a facilitator to flank around rising young stars Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell. Minnesota doesn’t want to break up that core trio, according to The Athletic.
There’s the rub. The Philadelphia 76ers are likely to ask for at least one of those players in a trade for Simmons. Russell is the one who makes the sense considering he makes just $3 million less than Simmons. That makes a straight-up swap an easy lift. But if the Timberwolves are unwilling to part with the former second overall pick from the 2015 draft then general manager Gersson Rosas would have to get creative. He recently told Dane Moore of KFAN1003 that the Timberwolves have had a lot of trade conversations, including one with the Sixers involving Simmons.
The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski joked that Sixers fans would jump at a fictional offer swapping Simmons for Jarrett Culver and a conditional second-round draft pick. That deal is a lop-sided one, something that a “level-headed” Sixers’ front office probably wouldn’t go for. However, it is the best package to keep Towns, Edwards, Russell all together in Minnesota.
If Edwards is off the table, as Krawczynski pointed out, then the Timberwolves would have to entice another team to join the conversation and construct a three-team deal to get Philly more “win-now players.” Conclusion: Simmons to Minnesota seems like a long shot.
Meanwhile, Culver – the 6-foot-6 combo guard from Texas Tech – averaged 5.3 points per game in 34 contests during the 2020-21 campaign. He’s still developing a long-range jumper — sound familiar? — but he hasn’t been averse to taking open shots. Culver has attempted eight times more three-pointers than Simmons in two fewer seasons.
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Sixers Should Ask for Malik Beasley, Too
Russell remains the most logical trade option due to financials, but another guy to monitor would be Malik Beasley. The sixth-year shooting guard has turned into a deadly outside shooter (39.1% from three) while averaging nearly 20 points per game over his last two seasons. Minnesota could keep their core trio together by jettisoning Beasley and Culver in a potential Simmons trade.
It’s a steep price for a Sixers player coming off a forgettable postseason, but the Timberwolves need to get better defensively in a hurry. Simmons, the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, instantly upgrades them in that department. He’s the perfect puzzle piece – albeit an unlikely one – for a team that finished 17th in the NBA in scoring at 112.1 points per game. Here is what The Athletic wrote about Simmons’ fit in Minnesota:
That would free up Simmons to do what he does best: defend every position on the floor the way an offense-heavy Wolves lineup would need him to do and get out in transition, which would be a fit with how Rosas and Finch want to play.
Simmons is one of the very best defenders in the league and a terror when he’s on the break, so if those attributes could be accentuated in Minnesota and his weaknesses as a shooter could be covered up by Towns, Edwards and Russell, the fit from a stylistic standpoint would be exceptional.
Sixers Only Moving Simmons for All-Star
The Sixers already turned down one offer for Simmons (via Jason Dumas) because the value wasn’t what they felt their three-time All-Star point guard was worth. People around the league maintain the market for Simmons is “very high” and many teams are waiting it out to see how desperate Philly gets.
Do they really want to break up their own core trio of Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris? If they do, it’s going to take more than Malcolm Brogdon. And probably more than Jarrett Culver, too.