Philadelphia 76ers: How the current trade market affects Ben Simmons

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

As Kristaps Porzingis and Anthony Davis plot out their futures, how will the NBA’s new trade landscape affect Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons in lieu of his 2020 restricted free agency period?

It’s officially February, which means we are mere days away from the NBA’s trade deadline; the most wonderful time of the year.

For a team on the edge like the Philadelphia 76ers, this is the final change to add that missing piece for a postseason run. For a team looking to not win now, this is an opportunity to secure some future assets. And for a disgruntled NBA star, this is the final chance to finish out the season with a fresh start.

Buckle up friends; this is going to a crazy week.

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As things presently stand, two top-25 NBA players have publically expressed displeasure with their current teams; with one, Kristaps Porzingis, having been shipped to the Dallas Mavericks in a seven-player deal that also secured the New York Knicks‘ two future first rounds picks, and the other, Anthony Davis, locked in a brutal staring match with the New Orleans Pelicans.

In today’s NBA, if a star player doesn’t want to be on a team anymore, they will more likely than not get their wish sooner rather than later, just ask current Sixer Jimmy Butler and former Sixer Jahlil Okafor.

But what does this mean for Ben Simmons, whose current contract will expire at the end of next season?

On paper, the decision appears to be an easy one: Elton Brand should offer Simmons a max deal (of some sort). This would lock in the 6-foot-10 point guard for 4-5 more years and secure him hundreds of millions of dollars to play the game he loves.

However, as we’ve seen this year, basketball players are a lot more complex than they appear on paper.

What if Simmons were to eventually become fed up with his current role as Joel Embiid‘s second banana and request a trade in the same vein as Davis? I mean he does have the same agent, Rich Paul, and rumors have circulated for years that he would ultimately like to become a member of the Los Angeles Lakers one day, dating all the way back to when he was selected first overall in the 2016 NFL Draft first overall.

Now that his mentor, LeBron James, has shaped Los Angeles in his image, that desire has in all likelihood expanded, not shrunk.

Would Philly be forced to make a move out of fear that their homegrown star would reject a long-term deal and opt to instead play out the 2020-21 season on a $10 million qualifying offer, a move that would make him a free agent the following summer?

That’s reportedly what Porzingis threatened to do to the Knicks, and he was seemingly traded like 15 minutes later, even if the squad backpedaled that timeline later and alleged that talks had been ongoing for a ‘while’.

Because there is no franchise tag in the NBA, once a players rookie deal comes to completion they have two choices to make moving forward: either sign a one-year qualifying offer or test restricted free agency. In restricted free agency, any team can fill out and submit an offer sheet for a players’ services, and their home club can either match it and retain the player under said parameters or can let them walk in free agency for no compensation.

Last season, the San Antonio Spurs lost Kyle Anderson to a Memphis Grizzlies offer sheet, and the Chicago Bulls retained Zach LaVine on a bloated offer sheet submitted by the Sacramento Kings.

In hindsight, both of those deals look bad, but a player like Simmons will never be subjected to a restricted free agency bidding war.

No, if Simmons doesn’t accept a max-level deal from the Sixers, the team will in all likelihood be forced to trade their starting point guard/power forward or allow him to walk in free agency for nothing.

That would obviously be very, very bad.

Now granted, there are no legitimate rumors that this is going to happen, let alone likely to happen, but if this year’s NBA trade deadline has taught us one thing, it’s that players now control the league more so than anytime before. As fans, pundits, and media personal continue to question the 76ers current corps fits together, and even write incredibly detailed Simmons trade primers (I’m looking at you, Zach Lowe) it’s entirely possible that Ben could start to feel less than appreciated in the City of Brotherly Love, and turn his eye to a different market, be that a larger one or a bigger one, where his star can shine brighter a la Magic-era Shaq.

Next. DeAndre Jordan is now a viable buy-out candidate. dark

While one could argue that the team would actually be better with a different player running the show, if Elton Brand wants to keep his current crew together, and continue to grow around their young Big-3, keeping Simmons happy (and not demanding a trade) should be considered a priority.