The 2021 NBA Draft is just a day away, and while the focus will be on the 60 players who will hear their names called, trades around the league will also hold attention as every team tries to improve either right now through adding a pivotal player, or with the intention of moving up the draft order to grab a player it really wants.
There's already been some rumors about what trades have been bubbling below the surface, which could potentially take place in the lead up to the draft, or while it's all going down. One of them could be the trade of Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons, who is increasingly likely to get traded, per The Athletic's Sam Amick. The teams tied to the two-time All-Defensive guard are the Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards, per Amick.
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Simmons' name has been on the trading block dating back to the start of the season, when the Sixers were in play to land James Harden, who ultimately ended up with the Brooklyn Nets. Philadelphia reportedly didn't want to include rookie Tyrese Maxey in a deal that would've sent Simmons to the Houston Rockets, and so the deal fell apart.
Trade talks ramped up again after another disappointing showing in the postseason that saw the Sixers bounced in the second round by the Atlanta Hawks. After a seven-game series in which Simmons averaged 10 points, 8.6 assists and 6.3 rebounds, the lingering questions crept up about if Simmons and big man Joel Embiid could coexist with each other. Simmons' missed free throws and timidness to take a shot outside of the paint led to some not-so-subtle public criticism from Sixers coach Doc Rivers as well as Embiid, and spurred the latest trade rumors.
A few weeks ago, it was reported that the Sixers were seeking All-Star-caliber talent in return for Simmons should a trade materialize, and given the reported teams listed, that could be doable for Philly. The Wizards are perhaps the most interesting of the three mentioned teams interested, given Bradley Beal's uncertain future with Washington. If Beal requests a trade, a Beal-for-Simmons deal would benefit both teams. For the Raptors, perhaps a deal involving Pascal Siakam could be executed given the recent report that the All-Star is "available." The Heat are an enticing trade partner for Philadelphia, given Miami's need for a legitimate point guard. However, it would hinge on how the Sixers view guys like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. If Philly is looking for All-Star talent, then those type of players may not get it done.
Despite Simmons' poor showing in the playoffs this year, it's obvious there's still interest in him around the league, and for good reason. He was All-NBA in 2020, a two-time All-Defensive first-team player and a Rookie of the Year winner. Simmons is also still 24 years old and with four years left on his contract he would be under team control for a few more years, which should intrigue teams. Whether he's traded around the draft, during free agency or maybe during the upcoming season, it appears as though Simmons' time on the Sixers is inching closer to the end.