Philadelphia 76ers: Would Elton Brand trade for Ben Simmons?

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

Well, well, well, things just got a whole lot more interesting, Philadelphia 76ers fans.

On Wednesday, September 22nd, the Minnesota Timberwolves dismissed long-time Daryl Morey assistant Gersson Rosas after two years as their President of Basketball Operations.

This news, understandably, came as a bit of a surprise to fans, employees, and even players of the Timberwolves alike. According to Ramona Shelbourne, Rosas was still conducting interviews and was at open shootouts this morning, but with immense pressure to contend under a new ownership group, a change was, I guess, desired.

Sidebar: As Bobby Marks pointed out, Rosas was allowed to make a slew of moves this offseason, from trading for Patrick Beverly, trading away 2019 sixth overall pick Jarrett Culver to extending Jarred Vanderbilt. While none of those moves are necessarily going to make or break the franchise moving forward, it’s curious Rosas was allowed to move so freely on such a presumed short leash.

Alright, cool. While this could certainly affect how the Wolves approach any trade proposals surrounding Ben Simmons, as the team was reportedly always one of the front-runners for his services, this shouldn’t have much of an impact on the Sixers moving forward, right?

I mean, the two teams are in different divisions, different conferences, and play in different times zones for goodness sake; why is this relevant?

Enter Jake Fischer.

As the Association attempted to grapple with its new landscape, the author of “Built to Lose” let it slip that Alex Rodriguez and Minnesota’s new front office have long been fans of Elton Brand and could potentially pursue the Sixers GM for their now-vacant role

Hmm… interesting.

So, just for a second, let’s assume it happens. Let’s assume the Minnesota Timberwolves hire Elton Brand out from under Daryl Morey’s wing and give him a second chance to run a franchise as he sees fit. Would he have more, less, or the same interest in trading for Ben Simmons?

Would Brand want to build a team around Simmons sans the Philadelphia 76ers?

There are very few people in the world who know more about Ben Simmons than Elton Brand.

Though Brand missed out on being teammates with Simmons by one year, he was responsible for building the team around his talents in a post-Bryan Coleangelo world, responsible for signing him to his max contract back in July of 2019, and ultimately, the person responsible for choosing “the Fresh Prince” over Jimmy Butler when it became apparent that the duo couldn’t co-exist long-term.

Brand knows Simmons’ temperament, how he likes to practice, and the best ways to complement his supreme talents with well-fitting pieces.

With carte blanche to build a team as he sees fit, surely with a slew of stretch power forwards, would Brand be interested in re-teaming with Simmons to build a team around him a la Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee?

Well, let’s see what Brand had to say about Simmons when the Philadelphia 76ers announced his extension back in 2019.

"“Ben Simmons is an important piece of our core and he is one of the NBA’s most dynamic and talented young players,” Brand said. “It was a priority for our organization that we finalize a contract extension with Ben this summer. He was Rookie of the Year in his first season, an All-Star in his second and we expect him to continue grow and succeed for seasons to come. Ben positively impacts the game in so many ways and we look forward to continuing our championship pursuits with him as one of our leaders.”"

Considering this was an occasion designed to puff Simmons up, it’s not too surprising that Brand’s comments were glowing, but hey, it’s still nice to see.

Factor in other comments Brand made about complementing Simmons and Joel Embiid instead of building solely around one or the other, and it’s safe to say at worst the former All-Star forward is at least neutral about his current superstar point guard, even if some of that commitment may have come from upstairs.

Okay, so if Brand does have an interest in building a team around Simmons, what would it look like?

Well, for one, Brand would surely want to secure a stretch five who enjoys shooting 3s and can stretch the field when he’s in the dunker spot. Speaking of shooters, Brand would surely like to find a few of those to fill out the roster, too, in addition to some complementary playmakers across the lineup and complementary defenders in both the front and backcourt.

Hmm… are there any teams that fit that bill? Maybe one with a vacancy at general manager?

Yes, as it’s been discussed ad nauseam, the Timberwolves actually have a roster that’s pretty darn compatible with Simmons’ style of play. They have complementary bigs like Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid, shooters like Malik Beasley, positionless defenders like Jaden McDaniels and Josh Okogie, and a pair of scoring guards in D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards who would look darn good in a backcourt next to Simmons.

Granted, acquiring Simmons would require surrendering at least a few of these players in addition to draft compensation to get a deal done, but Minnesota should still conceivably be able to retain enough talent to compete for a playoff spot in the West.

Considering the T Wolves have only made the playoffs once since the 2004-05 NBA season, something tells me that would be a major win for a franchise entering a new era.

Because Brand and Daryl Morey have worked together incredibly closely over the past calendar year and the former knows exactly what sort of offer his current team would accept for their second-best player’s services, if there was ever a deal to be done for Simmons’ services, Minnesota would be equipped to get it done.

Next. J.J. Redick jump-started the process to contention. dark

Everyone wants to believe that every NBA team is trying to win a championship every year. They want to believe in the illusion of competition, that teams play their best players whenever they can, and that no one intentionally tanks games by playing inexperienced rookies to insure better draft positioning. That often isn’t the case. While one could argue over the merits of acquiring Ben Simmons now versus next week versus next month, or even later, if the Minnesota Timberwolves’ new ownership group wants to make a splash and acquire one of the most talked-about names in the NBA, they’ll clearly do what needs to happen to get a deal done, even if that means firing their top executive and hiring away the Philadelphia 76ers’ current GM to better position themselves to get a deal done. File this one under “one to watch,” folks.