The Philadelphia 76ers are in something of a staring contest with the rest of the NBA when it comes to Ben Simmons, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are likely to be the potential trade partner who are the most willing to blink.
If the Wolves or Sixers blink and allow a trade to be consummated before the start of the 2021-22 season, what would Minnesota’s final trade package look like if they land Ben Simmons?
The Minnesota Timberwolves ‘Give-In’ Ben Simmons trade package
The 76ers have been known to have made exorbitant requests when it comes to potential Simmons trade packages.
The offer reportedly made from Philadelphia’s front office to the Golden State Warriors is the one that received the most attention and rightfully so — the Sixers were apparently asking for up to four first-round picks and three pick swaps, plus a young player. The other rumored trade included both Andrew Wiggins and last year’s No. 2 overall pick James Wiseman, plus four first-round picks.
Remember, 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey was the longtime boss of the Wolves’ executive with the same title, Gersson Rosas. There’s a preexisting relationship between the two men that could easily grease the wheels of a potential deal.
We don’t know exactly what the Sixers have asked for from Minnesota, but it’s a safe bet that it started with Karl-Anthony Towns or Anthony Edwards. It’s also a safe bet that Rosas rebuffed the overtures from his former boss, as the Wolves have made it clear publicly that they have no appetite for trading either franchise cornerstone (subscription required).
The Wolves would also prefer to not trade D’Angelo Russell, who is, in many ways, a perfect backcourt mate for Simmons: a high-usage guard with a dangerous catch-and-shoot game. Simmons also would cover many of Russell’s defensive deficiencies.
But, as the old adage goes, teams have to give up something in order to get something. So, if the Wolves decide to give up Russell, what would the framework of a deal look like?
This trade works out to be almost entirely even from a salary perspective.
It remains unclear if Morey is really all that interested in Russell and his max contract. He’s overpaid, to be sure, but he only has two years left on the deal and is a solid fit with Joel Embiid.
Morey would surely want Jaden McDaniels as well, and the Wolves would need Matisse Thybulle back to help shore up the backcourt with Russell out of the picture.
The Wolves may be able to pull this deal off while only including two first-round picks, but the bet here is that Morey extracts three from Rosas. Simmons is that much better than Russell, and as of today, Thybulle is a better player than McDaniels, even if the latter has greater upside.
If the Wolves made this trade, they would immediately improve. A starting lineup of Simmons, Malik Beasley, Edwards, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Towns would be formidable and well-rounded. The bench unit wouldn’t necessarily take a hit, either, although playing Josh Okogie and Thybulle together could be dicey from an offensive perspective.
And, believe it or not, this is probably the worst-case scenario for the Wolves in terms of assets given up to acquire Simmons. It’s possible they don’t need to go to these lengths to land Rosas’ latest white whale.
Let’s look at a trade possibility that would not include Russell.