Ben Simmons talks are heating up less than a month out from the NBA trade deadline, at least in the sense there are talks again, but they are not heating up as in anywhere near boiling, or even warm.
Recently, the 76ers have had “exploratory” talks with the Sacramento Kings, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. The Kings have shifted their position from the summer and would include De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton in a deal.
The Philadelphia 76ers canvassed the prospect of a Fox-Ben Simmons trade package as recently as a few days ago, but dialogue remains exploratory due diligence, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Fox’s game has taken a step back this season — 21 points and 5.1 assists a game, but shooting 25% from three and with a below average true shooting percentage of 53.7 — and he has not looked like an All-Star player, what Daryl Morey and the 76ers are demanding in return to trade Simmons. Halliburton knows how to run the pick-and-roll and looks like a veteran, quality NBA starter or rotation player in just his second season. However, his ceiling is not considered to be much higher than this.
While a straight-up trade for Simmons is not happening, the Kings could be the third-team in a larger Simmons deal, one that takes on Tobias Harris, reports Marc Stein (you need to subscribe to his newsletter).
More than one rival team believes Sacramento, in its desire for a significant shakeup as it bumbles toward a record 16th consecutive season out of the playoffs, could be convinced to take on Tobias Harris’ contract to facilitate a Simmons deal. If the Sixers can’t get the top-flight player they covet, going ahead with a Simmons deal that enables them to shed the two years and nearly $80 million left on Harris’ contract after this season might be too enticing to resist rather than holding out for a star in return.
Look for a deal like that to include Oklahoma City as well, the one team with cap space (more than $24 million and the ability to create more) that can absorb a contract rather than just swap players making roughly the same money.
Joel Embiid is spouting the party line now, that these 76ers are enough and they don’t need a bold move to win. However, it’s hard to envision these 76ers beating a healthy Nets or Bucks team — or maybe even a Heat team — in a seven-game playoff series. They need more, and league sources have told NBC Sports they can’t believe Morey wants to “waste” a season of Embiid’s prime.
However, the 76ers may do just that, waiting for a perfect — or at least very good — deal to come together. The 76ers have been looking for that sweet spot trade since last offseason, and here we are in the exact same spot. We are still waiting.