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Where Will Ben Simmons End Up?

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The Philadelphia 76ers have been bundled out of the playoffs in the second round once more. With Ben Simmons going missing in Game 7 yet again and putting together an inconsistent playoff campaign, it would appear the Australian is well and truly on the outer at Philadelphia. After years of trusting the ‘process’, the Sixers have now had three second-round and one first-round exit in the last four years. The team have built and built, but can’t seem to clear the playoff hurdles, and it’s very obviously time for a change.

It didn’t help he sat out the playoffs last year with a knee injury but, with no confidence at the free-throw line and his shot still not where it needs to be, a fresh change could be what Simmons needs. While coach Doc Rivers states he wants to work on Simmons’ shooting over the off-season, putting the Olympic Games in significant doubt, we have decided to take a look at the five most likely landing destinations for Simmons.

It’s fairly clear that, with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry all going along nicely, the 76ers will be chasing an out-and-out point guard who can score, should this trade ever eventuate.

Houston Rockets

It’s difficult to imagine Simmons being keen on another rebuilding job but, given Houston traded away all their top guns before finishing with the worst record in the league this season, that’s what it would be. John Wall is the experienced point guard Houston brought in but hasn’t been able to deliver with the roster around him despite putting up 20.6 points per game this season. This is the sort of trade that would suit both clubs. The 76ers need the experience and scoring of Wall, and Houston needs a franchise man who they can build around. Simmons’ ability to play all five positions and put up consistently good numbers will also help Houston’s cause, as will his perimeter defence. Further to that, Simmons would be able to improve away from the playoffs blowtorch for the next couple of years. It’s worth remembering too how close Houston was to trading for Simmons when James Harden was exiting.

Portland Trail Blazers

Portland has been marked as one of the more likely teams to enter trade negotiations for Simmons. Years of playoff potential without taking the next step have left Damien Lillard approaching the twilight of his career without so much as a conference finals appearance. The Trail Blazers’ major problem has been defence and, while trading away someone like CJ McCollum or even Lillard himself wouldn’t overly lessen the offensive output, it would certainly improve the defensive potential. If Portland is going to take the next step, then a player like Simmons could be the man to chase.

Not only that, but a Lillard and Joel Embiid combination at the 76ers could prove to be one of the most dangerous in the NBA. This one seems to make sense.

Washington Wizards 

One club that wouldn’t be a rebuilding job is the Washington Wizards. One of the favourites to trade for Simmons, scoring machine Bradley Beal has been linked to the 76ers. Beal’s output at 31.3 points per game this season was phenomenal and overshadowed even gun teammate Russell Westbrook. Given it’s looking more and more likely Westbrook will be heading away from Washington, the team would be all but handed over to Simmons and other potential pick-ups in the trade. With players like Rui Hachimura and Thomas Bryant in the paint, Simmons’ passing game could benefit the franchise greatly, as would his perimeter defence.

 Chicago Bulls

The 76ers are out to win a championship, and the Bulls have a piece of the puzzle in Zach LaVine. Whether Chicago would be willing to pass up LaVine is very much up for debate, but if they view Simmons as the right man to restart around, then this trade could be a goer. What Chicago lacked this season was a great passer. While LaVine put up 27.4 points per game, the Bulls had no one making more than five assists per game, and it hurt them on the scoreboard, the franchise eventually missing the playoffs. Simmons would fix that issue, combine with Nikola Vucevic excellently and aid Chicago’s at times poor perimeter defence.

Boston Celtics

The Celtics have lacked a point guard since trading Kemba Walker away. While they have scored under control through Jayson Tatum (26.4 points per game), Simmons would substantially improve both their defence and the rate the ball moves around the floor, unlocking the potential of players like Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson. Boston’s offence has been stagnant at times due to a lack of ball movement and while they’d likely have to give up their second-highest scorer in Jaylen Brown, it’d be a solid move for the men in green. Brown would be a solid fit in Philadelphia alongside Embiid as well, provided players like Shake Milton and Seth Curry can stand up as facilitators.

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