This NBA season came to a premature end, but we've seen all we need to see from the Philadelphia 76ers. Despite being hoisted with high expectations, the Sixers have failed to take the steps necessary for true title contention. Mired with inconsistency, shooting troubles, and injury concerns, the team wasn't going to get very far had the playoffs been able to commence.
The Portland Trail Balzers are a team in almost the same boat. After a Western Conference Finals appearance just last spring, they have grossly underperformed. With an isolation-heavy offense and a lack of any true defensive identity, not even the combined powers of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Carmelo Anthony could pull them out of the gutter.
Bearing in mind their biggest needs, there may be a way these two teams can help each other. In a piece by Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report, he explains a deal that could involve a swap between CJ McCollum and Ben Simmons.
The Trade: Ben Simmons for CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons and 2021 first-round pick
Simmons' and Embiid's both needing the ball might be contributing to the clash. And Simmons' refusing to shoot has made him close to a non-factor when he's off the ball. That can lead to crowding on Embiid's post touches. What would happen if you swapped Simmons for a ball-handler who can shoot?
For Philly, they trade their primary ball-handler for a bonafide scorer and outside threat in CJ McCollum. CJ could still run point for the Sixers but he wouldn't clog the paint as Simmons does. This would allow more opportunities for Embiid, who may be the best post player in the game.
In Portland, Simmons would make a huge impact.
But Simmons would be an upgrade in terms of size, defense and raw talent. He might even fit better on paper.
First, in Portland, he wouldn't be the 1. That would obviously still be Lillard. So, imagine Simmons as a taller, more athletic version of Draymond Green at the 4. He and Lillard could have a bit of a Green-Stephen Curry connection. The comparison starts to fall apart here, but perhaps Rodney Hood could replicate at least a little of what Klay Thompson did for that duo.
Simmons would help the iso-happy Blazers get the ball moving but, more importantly, he could also help give them a major defensive boost. This past season, that area was among the team's worst categories.
So, for both sides, there are significant benefits to the deal. And while major moves such as this are always hard to make, don't be surprised if both players end up the conversation in multiple trade rumors this summer.