After the Philadelphia 76ers tumbled out of the playoffs in the second round at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks, critics pointed to point guard Ben Simmons as the biggest reason why the team faltered in the seven-game series. He averaged 10 points and 8.6 assists against the Hawks, which wouldn't be so bad if he wasn't making over $30 million this season, and still owed $147 million over the next four years. His shooting has been the chief grievance since he's been in the league, and although Simmons and the team are committed to improving his shot this offseason, trading the All-Star has also been discussed, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
Simmons' agent Rich Paul from Klutch Sports reportedly met with Sixers president Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand in Chicago this week to talk about his future with the franchise.
"Paul engaged the Sixers on whether it makes sense to work together to find a trade before the start of next season, but no request was made and the sides are expected to continue talking ahead of the July 29 NBA draft and August free agency, sources said. The 76ers are committed to keeping Simmons as a central piece of their franchise, sources said."
This wouldn't be the first time Simmons was talked about in a potential trade to move him out of Philadelphia. When James Harden requested a trade from the Houston Rockets at the start of this season, Simmons was the centerpiece of the deal along with Matisse Thybulle. But Philadelphia didn't want to include standout rookie Tyrese Maxey, so the deal fell through. There have been questions in the past surrounding the fit of Simmons with MVP-finalist Joel Embiid, and the loss to the Hawks only resurfaced those conversations. After Philadelphia's loss, Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers aired not-so-subtle criticism of Simmons performance, which only added more fuel to the already raging fire.
Other teams around the league are reportedly assessing the Sixers' interest level in trade packages during the pre-draft combine in Chicago this week, Wojnarowski reports. Philly "remains reluctant to break up the tandem of Embiid and Simmons without maximizing a return and exhausting all possibilities to improve Simmons' offense." However, if a team offers the right deal to the Sixers, it would be difficult seeing them say no as the window for opportunity to win a championship with this team is right now.