The Ben Simmons saga continues.
If you placed a bet that 76ers guard Ben Simmons would be traded to the Kings, which had the second-best odds at +400 odds heading into this season, well, we’ve got some bad news for you. (Note: Minnesota had the best odds at +300.)
While Sacramento has been active in trade conversations recently, the franchise does not want to move guards De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. In a report published Wednesday, Charania revealed the Kings brass spoke to Fox and his agent, Chris Gaston of Family First Sports, telling them the organization wants to “center the team around” Fox and Haliburton.
If the Kings truly aren’t interested in trading Fox or Haliburton before the Feb. 10 trade deadline — there are always a lot of smokescreens to navigate around this part of the NBA calendar — then their goal of acquiring Simmons would become a lot more challenging.
Sacramento’s interest in the three-time All-Star is well-documented, but Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey hasn’t backed down from his high asking price. Fox or Haliburton would be the centerpiece of any hypothetical Simmons deal between the 76ers and Kings, so it seems as though Sacramento is off the table as a Simmons landing spot, unless the front office changes its stance or involves a third team. Morey does not appear interested in accepting a few role players and NBA Draft picks when he has already held out this long.
Who else could the Kings trade?
The Kings could hypothetically shop Marvin Bagley III, Buddy Hield, Richaun Holmes or Harrison Barnes in a deal to balance the money it would take to acquire Simmons.
- Bagley III has an expiring contract at $11.3 million.
- Hield signed a four-year, $94 million contract extension in 2019 and is set to make $22.4 million this season.
- Barnes signed four-year, $85 million contract in 2019, as well.
- Holmes signed four-year, $46.5 million contract this past offseason and has a 15 percent trade kicker attached to his deal, so moving him seems the least probable.
- Simmons signed a four-year, $169.5 million extension in 2019 and is on the books for $31.6 million this season, which escalates to $38.6 million by the end of the deal.
(Additionally, it’s worth noting the Kings don’t want to take back Tobias Harris as part of a Simmons deal, according to The Athletic’s Sam Amick. The Sixers have reportedly been attempting to attach Harris to some Simmons trades, but his massive contract will be a major hurdle in any discussions.)
Simmons will be the biggest name to watch as the trade deadline approaches, but it’s possible he stays on Philadelphia’s roster through the end of the season. In a recent newsletter, NBA insider Marc Stein explained why Morey could press pause on a Simmons trade until the summer:
Perhaps he has also been sold on a concept that executives with a growing number of rival teams say they see as Morey’s new preferred scenario: Keeping Simmons beyond the trade deadline to exhaust every last possibility for executing a complicated sign-and-trade in the offseason that finally brings James Harden to Philadelphia and routes Simmons to Brooklyn.
Complicated is a polite description for such a deal, since the Sixers would be hard-capped by taking Harden in via sign-and-trade and would thus have to shed more salary than just Simmons’ contract according to the league’s luxury-tax rules to make it work financially. Yet it must be noted that there is enough noise circulating leaguewide about Harden’s reported openness to relocation this summer — after he turned down a lucrative extension from the Nets in October — to give Morey the encouragement he needs to wait.
Harden is obviously in a different tier than Fox or Haliburton, and he would significantly raise the Sixers’ ceiling. But pursuing him also brings a different set of challenges and questions.
Is Harden really available? Can the 76ers figure out how to construct that trade? Are they willing to take a huge zero from Simmons’ roster spot while Joel Embiid performs at an MVP level right now?
Yep, the saga continues.