Look, winning a championship is hard.
Even if you seemingly have everything lined up perfectly, there are so many random ways it can go wrong. And for the Philadelphia 76ers, things have gone terribly wrong in recent years.
Players can and will get hurt. Joel Embiid tore his meniscus. Danny Green strained his calf.
You’re head coach, Doc Rivers can continue to make bad decisions, no adjustments and questionable rotations.
You can outscore a team by 20 points over seven games, blow multiple gigantic leads and somehow lose a series you should have won 6-1.
You may even be so mentally captured by the moment and critics, that you pass up a wide open layup.
The latter of course is Ben Simmons, who once was viewed as a LeBron 2.0, has edged himself closer to Rudy Gobert with a handle than the King.
The signature moment came with 3:49 left in a close Game 7 between Atlanta and Philadelphia, a play that will become known simply in local lore as “The Pass.”
After Simmons executed a beautiful spin move on the block against the Hawks’ Danilo Gallinari and found himself mano-a-mano against the rim. Rather than take the easy dunk spread before him and Simmons dropped the ball off to a cutting Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled by a recovering John Collins and made only one of the two free throws.
No, that one point wasn’t the difference between winning and losing, the massive blown leads earlier in the series probably taker the cake for the loss.
But The Pass took the air out of the building and underscored the issues at the core of the Simmons experience in Philadelphia. He has no confidence at all in his shooting, and Nate McMillan’s strategy of intentionally fouling him picked away at that further. The Sixers ended up taking him off the floor in fourth quarters when they were in the bonus.
Worse yet was the impact it had on Simmons’ offensive aggression. He doesn’t want to get fouled, so he doesn’t want to shoot either, even at the rim … or handle the ball, which is quite a statement for the team’s alleged point guard. Amazingly, Simmons didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter of the final four games of the series.
That’s the thing: The Pass wasn’t an aberration; it was a culmination.
So the Philly faithful have come to realize that “The Process” has not ended with “The Pass,” and the 76ers front office should realize that too.
The Simmons-Embiid duo has long been forced into the most awkward pairing in league history. The center with post moves like Hakeem Olajuwon was forced to shoot threes because the point guard was too scared to attempt a 3 point shot.
It is time to move off one of the two and for both the sanity of Philly fans and the well being of Simmons, the trade piece has to be Simmons. So here are 4 trade packages for the all star who is in the twilight zone.
Portland and Philadelphia swap CJ McCollum for Ben Simmons
The Portland Trailblazers are the 76ers of the Western Conference. You have a MVP caliber player in Damian Lillard who just needs that second consistent player alongside him to get over the hump.
Cj McCollum has been Lillard’s right hand man for about 7 years now. The two, while dynamic together in the back court, are similar to the Embiid-Simmons pairing. Lillard and McCollum do all the same things, with neither actually making up for the others flaws.
We know the 76ers need to hit the reset button. But so do the Blazers. Every year from here out that you don’t win a championship with Lillard is a waste of you’re franchise players career. He has been loyal, maybe too loyal that it has been detrimental to his career. So now they have to make a change and the Simmons and McCollum swap helps out both teams.
The 76ers get a reliable scorer and play maker in crunch time to work with Embiid. The Blazers get an all defensive first team wing defender who can also play multiple roles when needed. Simmons can run the point when Lillard takes a breather, or have action with Lillard running off ball like Curry does.
It feels like a win win for two organizations who are stuck.
Minnesota’s last plead to keeping KAT long term
The Timberwolves have been on the clock since drafting Karl Anthony Towns back in 2015. The same clock that ran out in Minnesota with Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love. If the Wolves can’t get into the playoff picture soon they’ll yet agin lose a franchise big man.
With the emergence of rookie Anthony Edwards last season, the need for D’Angelo Russell becomes mute. Two ball dominate scoring guards to go along with a ball dominant big won’t work out. They need defense and a playmaker, not scorer. Simmons checks those boxes.
As for the 76ers, they’d get back Russell and maybe a role player and a pick swap. Russell would be that late game closer for the 76ers. He does have ice in his veins after all.
He isn’t James Harden who the 76ers could’ve had a year ago, but you’ll take it considering how much Simmons value has dropped in a years time.
The Warriors go all in on one final championship run with the remains of the Big 3
The Warriors have Steph Curry under contract for next season, so it might be a good idea to continue to push for a NBA championship.
But the idea that the Warriors could win a title as currently constructed is laughable. Draymond is a shell of himself. Klay is a question mark after last playing in the 2019 NBA Finals (9 months pre pandemic, yes that long.) James Wiseman was under whelming considering the Warriors were better without him.
The 7th and 17th picks in this years draft are not going to be game changers immediately, if ever.
So why not go add a 4th all star to the mix and see where it takes you?
A package of Andrew Wiggins, and the 7th overall pick should get the deal done on the end of the Warriors. Wiggins was good with the Warriors but he isn’t the fit for the style of basketball the Warriors play.
Would the 76ers want Wiggins and his expensive contract? No probably not. But the 7th pick could be appetizing, and flipping Wiggins to a third team is always on the table. Maybe a Wiggins to OKC for Kemba?
A lot can tie into this scenario but I think a Simmons fit in Golden State is perfect for both his career going forward and the Warriors title hopes.
Gregg Popovich’s last power move before handing the keys to Becky Hammon
The Spurs are caught in the worst spot in sports: the middle.
They’re not good enough to make the playoffs anymore, but also not embarrassingly awful to snag a top 3 pick to get that next superstar. Instead, thanks to Gregg Popovich, the Spurs have just a bunch of guys who are ok but likely never more than just that.
The Spurs can ship any number of packages to Philly for Simmons. The main one would be a sign and trade with DeMar DeRozan plus a Derrick White and Keldon Johnson for Simmons.
The Spurs get an all-star in their building while cashing in on a free asset of DeRozan. The 76ers get a closer in DeRozan plus scoring and defensive depth with White and Johnson.