Another week, another Ben Simmons to the Detroit Pistons trade rumor. Whether it’s a “where there is smoke, there is fire” situation or whether it’s just the shambling, rotting corpse of an exploratory call from several months ago is anybody’s guess.
This time, as in rumors’ past, the talks are centered around former Sixer and current Pistons No. 1 option Jerami Grant, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Pompey reports that a package centered around Grant and the potential of taking another run at a James Harden trade next offseason are some of the few packages that appeal to Sixers president Daryl Morey.
Pompey mentions “ongoing” discussions with the Detroit Pistons for “Grant, another forward, a young player and a draft pick.” That’s a lot to give up for Detroit so it stands to reason the reluctance is on Detroit’s end.
It’s all quite confusing and isn’t helped by the raft of unnamed sources Pompey uses throughout the piece. See if you can walk yourself through this thicket of speculation, rumor mongering and alleged insight from unnamed sources.
One source said power forward/center Kelly Olynyk and second-year swingman Saddiq Bey were mentioned as players who could be included in a possible deal. However, a source said the Pistons are unlikely to include Bey, a Villanova product, or Olynyk.
A person close to the Sixers said the team would want a more high-profile player than Grant in exchange for Simmons. The source added that the team hasn’t spoken to the Pistons lately.
But multiple sources said the Sixers have, and that the discussions were centered around Grant.
If you need some help deciphering the hieroglyphics above, it boils down to “rumors are flying and what information you’re given depends on who you ask.”
Further down in the piece, Pompey adds this:
The Sixers have had discussions about Grant for several months, according to sources. In September, Detroit was unwilling to part ways with one of their young talents. That’s no longer the case for the Pistons, a squad that struggles to attract free agents.
At 4-10, the Pistons have to ask themselves whether they can rebuild around another high draft pick or build around someone like Simmons. The hope in this type of deal is that acquiring Simmons could lead free agents to Detroit to play alongside the three-time All-Star.
First, interesting that a formerly untouchable young player is now someone they’d be willing to move. Whether it’s the aforementioned Bey, young center Isaiah Stewart or point guard Killian Hayes is anybody’s guess.
Second, the idea that the Pistons would be contemplating a Ben Simmons move because they believe Simmons would attract free agents that want to play alongside him is ... laughable?
Winning is an attraction, money is for sure an attraction. But I can’t imagine many players who the general NBA player population lower on the birthday invite list than Ben Simmons.
Oh wait, you know who else might attract free agents? Cade Cunningham.
And the reigning No. 1 overall pick is nowhere to be found in Pompey’s article. That’s no surprise, considering he’s looking at it from a Sixers perspective, but it’s the biggest factor in all considerations for the Detroit Pistons going forward.
Could Simmons and Cunningham play together? That is where I have my doubts. You often hear about players on the same team “needing the ball in their hands” when people question how new pieces will fit together. Well, there are players that need the ball in their hands and then there is Ben Simmons.
Simmons is a defensive whiz, and a great passer and he is capable of finishing shots at the rim. But he is a no-shot player. Simmons shot 65.7% in the restricted area last season on 364 field goal attempts. Another 188 attempts came from elsewhere in the paint where he shot a respectable 40.4%. But Simmons shot a grand total of 34 attempts from outside the paint and shot 29%.
It’s an issue the Sixers have dealt with his entire tenure, and it’s only been exacerbated by the addition of additional talents who are adept with the ball in their hands. And putting Simmons in the dunker’s spot has not been a solution, and it could have quickened the impending divorce.
Simply put, if you were building a team around Ben Simmons would you want a player like Cade Cunningham? If you were building a team around Cade Cunningham, would you want a player like Ben Simmons? If the answer to either or both of those is no, then it means a deal is not likely.
That ALL being said, and being EXTREMELY true and relevant, there is another factor to consider. It’s why these rumors won’t die and why there might even be some legitimacy to Detroit’s supposed interest in Simmons.
He’s an extremely good player and the Pistons will be forced to ask themselves how else they plan on building a contender around Cunningham. They won’t ever be a prime free agent destination, and you can never bank on the “right” star being on the trade market at the right time when you’re armed with just the right collection of assets to swing a deal.
And as much as I love Jerami Grant, Simmons would be a significant upgrade. As much as I’ve loved the development of Bey, Stewart, Hayes and Saben Lee to varying degrees, none is untouchable if the right deal came along. And as much as Detroit needs to build through the draft, they simply need to put the appropriate protections on any picks they send out in a deal for a young, difference-making player.
The Sixers asking price is still too high, and that is why Simmons is gathering dust and the animosity continues to grow between the warring factions. If and when the price drops, will the Pistons be ready to pounce? I doubt it, but the zombie shambles on looking for its next source of fresh meat.