Why the Sixers will lose the Ben Simmons staring contest with Portland

Ben Simmons trade, Sixers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons trade, Sixers (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Ever since the Sixers‘ season ended with an embarassing second-round loss to the Hawks compliments of Ben Simmons’ infamous ‘The Pass,’ trade speculation has consumed Philadelphia. The city’s sights were immediately set on Damian Lillard, a superstar toiling away with a mediocre supporting cast in the West. A Lillard-Embiid combo would immediately put Philadelphia in the top three favorites to win the title.

For weeks, Sixers fans have checked Twitter for any sign Lillard might ask out, turning the clock to Dame Time in Philly. Unfortunately, Dame has not yet asked out and at every turn indicates he plans to stay.

Thus, Philadelphia and Portland find themselves in an old-fashioned stare-down. Sixers GM Daryl Morey can offer Simmons and every conceivable Sixers asset for Lillard. Blazers GM Neil Olshey, reluctant to give up a top-10 player, can counter by offering CJ McCollum and Robert Covington for Simmons. The staring match rages on.

The Sixers find themselves between a rock and a hard place, with Ben Simmons likely to force their hand in trade negotiations.

Morey’s problem is that Simmons will inevitably force Philly to blink first. If he even does show up to training camp, Ben will likely ask to be traded by the beginning of the season. Unlike Dame and Portland, Ben has bad blood with Embiid and 76ers coach Doc Rivers.

Olshey has probably told Dame to hold tight and wait for Simmons to ask out. Portland will then have the opportunity to pounce, obtaining Ben for two quarters on the dollar.

Portland also recently upgraded their roster, obtaining the promising young Larry Nance Jr. from Cleveland. Lillard, who wants to win a championship in Portland, will want to at least see how the new team does during the beginning of the season. Ben has no such loyalty to Philly and will force the issue before Dame.

For Dame, playing alongside Ben probably offers the best chance of winning a title in Portland. For all that we’ve talked about the perfection of the Embiid-Lillard fit, Simmons also complements Lillard. Ben compensates for Lillard’s defensive shortcomings. Lillard also does not need to get into the paint to score, opening up more room for Simmons to cook.

This is a staring match that Philly is doomed to lose. Morey’s best way out is to not trade Simmons to Portland, even though that is probably the best package for the 76ers to win now. To win a championship, Philly needs another superstar to pair with Embiid. The aging McCollum and RoCo would not appeal to a team looking to unload a star and rebuild.

If Simmons forces the issue, as we all expect him to, Morey should trade him for the best combination of trade assets, loading up Philly’s trade assets for when the next superstar asks out. Philly may lose the staring contest, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on getting another superstar.

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