Philadelphia 76ers: Minnesota has no realistic Ben Simmons trade package

(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /

*sigh* Another day, another news story about the Philadelphia 76ers and their on-again, off-again mission to trade for Ben Simmons. At this point, what else is new?

On Monday, August 30th, Shams Charania gave feverish fans of Philly’s favorite basketball team an update on the team’s efforts to move Simmons and the potential suitors still trying to get in on the deal (subscription required).

The positives: Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors remain engaged parties in potential trade discussions.

The negatives: Neither team has presented a package good enough to swing the needle from pass to party (duh).

While one could conceivably scoff at this report as much to do about nothing, and in a way it is, as there is a nugget of information included in Charania’s reporting that could help to gauge the current market for Ben Simmons’ services and infer as to which players the Philadelphia 76ers are and aren’t interested in acquiring moving forward.

The Philadelphia 76ers are disinterested in a deal headlined by D’Angelo Russell.

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D’Angelo Russell. Malik Beasley. Jaden McDaniels.

All three are good NBA players. All three are under 26. And all three could conceivably remain viable contributors for a very, very long time.

But is that trio good enough to garner a trade for Ben Simmons? Hmm… well, let’s put it this way, if it was, they would already be members of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now, on paper – and only on paper – the deal may not be as lopsided as it surely is in practice. Russell, Beasley, and McDaniels combined for 45.6 points in 85.3 minutes of action while stuffing out the stat sheet with 9.3 assists, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.5 steals per game.

In the most vacuumiest of vacuums, that is objectively better than Simmons’ stat line of 14.3 pounds, 6.9 assists, and 7.2 rebounds in 32.4 minutes, but unfortunately, we don’t play basketball in a vacuum. If you want to trade out a three-time former All-Star with Defensive Player of the Year upside, you really need to bring back another player with star potential, which, unfortunately, Minnesota’s proposed asset pool simply doesn’t possess.

Of the three proposed players, McDaniels is surely the most intriguing from a developmental standpoint. He’s already the best defender of the bunch – and really, the only plus-defender of the lot – and at only 20-years-old, has plenty of room to grow into his 6-foot-9, 185-pound frame. He’s a decent enough 3 point shooter, a promising defensive rebounder, and the sort of positionless player who could be a promising answer to Matisse Thybulle in the frontcourt.

While McDaniels will all but surely never become an All-Star caliber contributor, he does present upside somewhere between Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, which is to say, a viable roleplayer who could start on some teams or come off the bench for others.

Beasley, too, could conceivably have a clear role with the Sixers this fall if he were acquired in a trade for Simmons.

Since arriving in the Gopher State following a midseason trade from Denver in 2020, Beasley has averaged 19.9 points in 32.9 minutes of action per night. He’s been a good all-around scorer, a solid enough rebounder from the shooting guard position, and an 82.4 percent shooter from the charity stripe.

… oh yeah, and Beasley is a 40 percent 3 point shooter on 8.5 attempts per game; how ever could I have forgotten?

If you’ve been clamoring for Buddy Hield since 2019, the 24-year-old Beasley is a darn good consolation prize who could either start in place of or come into games in relief of Seth Curry for roughly 30 minutes of action a night.

While the biggest issue a Sixers team sans Simmons would face is surely playmaking, the best way to win around Joel Embiid remains surrounding him with viable 3 point shooters and thus, getting Beasley under contract through the 2023-24 season on a very team-friendly four-year, $60 million contract.

So what gives? I know the Sixers already have players like Curry, Georges Nieng, and Isaiah Joe under contract, but landing McDaniels and Beasley would certainly make the team better both in the short and long-term, right?

That is 100 percent true.

So what’s the hangup?

Two words (and one punctuation mark): D’Angelo Russell.

Now I’m not going to be one of those certified D-Lo haters who trash on his game, his personal life, and his admittedly adorable dogs. I was one of those #ProcessFans who wanted the Sixers to land Russell out of Ohio State in 2015 and have semi-followed his career ever since. In the right role, on the right contract, Russell could be a solid complementary star somewhere between Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo, but what do those players have in common?

They aren’t signed to a four-year, $117 million max contract at an AAV of $29.3 million.

For all of the good Russell brings to the table – his 19 points per game, his 5.8 assists, his left-handed shot – he’s just not the sort of player who can lead a team to a championship as their number one or even number two offensive option.

He’s an inefficient shooter from beyond the arc, from the field, and even from the line, a poor shot selector who takes 8.1 shots from between 5-24 feet from the basket, and most crucially of all, a turnover machine who averaged the 23rd most turnovers per game despite only having a 29.1 usage rate. If Russell was on the same contract as Beasley, one could argue which player is better, and some may even pick the former depending on their needs, but for twice as much money, it’s a pretty easy conversation.

Could the two parties conceivably find a third partner from which to re-route Russell for a better-fitting asset? Sure, I would imagine both GMs are scouring the league as we speak looking for a quality fit as we speak but honestly, who could that even be? Could the T-Wolves swap out Russell for Terry Rozier? How about one of the San Antonio Spurs’ many guards? Collin Sexton was reportedly available earlier this summer, could Russell fetch his and Kevin Love’s services?

Any of those deals are hypothetically possible but honestly, if any of those players were good enough to headline a trade for Simmons, why wouldn’t the Sixers reach out and simply make a deal with any of those teams?

Yeah, I don’t know either.

Next. Charles Bassey could learn from K.J. McDaniels. dark

At this point, the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster is set. All of their rookies are signed, as are their internal and external free agent acquisitions, and, assuming the team doesn’t want to move off of players like Tyrese Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris, their options to make a three-for-one trade are incredibly limited until December. So, if an external team is going to come in and offer a non-All Star centered package for Ben Simmons’ services, they at the very least have to come correct with a package that complements Joel Embiid. For all of the intrigue Minnesota’s package brings to the table from a supplemental standpoint, D’Angelo Russel simply isn’t a good enough lead guard to get the Sixers where they need to be, which is sort important if they are going to make such an NBA-altering trade at this point in the summer.