Sixers: Top realistic trade target from 5 teams interested in Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons, Sixers (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons, Sixers (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

The Ben Simmons trade talk is heating up. Marc Stein, who now does his reporting for Substack, added fuel to the fire on Tuesday, listing five teams who have expressed interest in the Sixers‘ three-time All-Star — Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Toronto. He also expects other teams to join the list.

A notable absentee is Portland. With the Damian Lillard situation in flux, Philadelphia could exercise patience and wait for him to (hopefully) ask out. Meanwhile, in an attempt to appease Lillard and bring about change, it’s well within reason for Portland to pursue a CJ McCollum-for-Ben Simmons swap.

Until then, these are the five teams most worth considering. Simmons is bound to have significant trade value, even after his second round flameout. He’s a three-time All-Star, with an All-NBA and two All-Defensive nods on his resume before he turns 25. The opportunity to lock him up through 2025 is appealing. The Sixers, conversely, cannot simply hand him away for scraps.

Here is the best realistic trade target from the five teams who have expressed interest in Simmons.

Sixers’ top realistic Ben Simmons trade target from Cavaliers: Darius Garland

While the availability of Collin Sexton has been widely speculated and subsequently reported, he’s not the best backcourt prospect in Cleveland. That title belongs to Darius Garland, who made big strides in his second NBA season. If the Cavs want to pry Simmons from Philadelphia, it would (ideally, if not likely) start with Garland.

Garland doesn’t quite have the volume scoring knack that Sexton does, but he’s a much more polished and willing playmaker. He creates for others, and already looks the part of a future All-Star at point guard. Sexton struggles to involve teammates, and if the Sixers are trading Simmons, it would be wise to get a player who can create for others as well as himself.

Last season, Garland averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. From 3-point range, he splashed home 39.5 percent of his 4.9 attempts per game. He’s a dangerous pull-up shooter, with excellent instincts in the pick-and-roll and the makings of a slippery downhill scorer.

A top-five pick in 2019, Garland has no shortage of pedigree and prestige to his name. He doesn’t get the same love as Sexton outside Cleveland, but he’s the better prospect, and more importantly, the better hypothetical complement to Joel Embiid. If the Sixers deal with Cleveland, Garland should be the key piece in return.

Cavs’ other notable assets: Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Larry Nance Jr., #3 pick