The Ben Simmons saga could have a surprising ending if a Western Conference team pulls the trigger on a blockbuster move that would solve several issues for them while sending a big package to the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Sixers are still talking with teams about a potential trade for Simmons, but they want to take the best possible package for the point guard. That situation has prevented them from shipping Simmons, yet that could change if the Los Angeles Clippers decide to make a move for him.
Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report suggested a series of last-minute trades before the start of the season, which included Simmons going to the Clippers in exchange for four players and six draft picks.
Proposed trade: Clippers receive Ben Simmons; Sixers receive Terance Mann, Eric Bledsoe, Luke Kennard, Keon Johnson, a 2028 first-round pick, and second-round picks in 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026.
After exhausting most of their trade assets to acquire Paul George, the Clippers have now restocked the roster with some young talent and could now be threats to trade for a star yet again.
With Kawhi Leonard expected to miss the majority of the regular season with a partially torn ACL, Simmons would be a nice defensive replacement who would instantly become the best playmaker on the roster.
A backcourt of Simmons and Reggie Jackson alongside George, Marcus Morris Sr. and Serge Ibaka would still be a major threat in the West even without Leonard, especially with Ivica Zubac, Nicolas Batum, Justise Winslow and rookie Jason Preston (when he recovers from foot surgery) off the bench.
Bledsoe would take over starting point guard duties in Philadelphia and should be re-energized on a title contender after a down year with the New Orleans Pelicans. Mann, 24, made 41.8 percent of his threes last season and dropped 39 points to help eliminate the Utah Jazz. Kennard (44.6 percent from three) ranked eighth in the NBA last season in outside accuracy.
Picking up Johnson, the 21st overall pick in the 2021 draft, and six additional draft picks would give the Sixers some good trade ammunition should they want to make another deal in the future.
This trade makes a lot of sense for both teams, but the Sixers seem to be more focused on getting an All-Star player for Simmons and the Clippers wouldn't provide that with the proposed package.
Sure, they can get plenty of picks for the future, but this team is built to compete right now. Perhaps these picks could give them the chance to trade for another star like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal.
Meanwhile, the Clippers would get a defensive player that could replace Kawhi on that end. They won't need Simmons to shoot since Jackson, George and Morris are solid 3-PT shooters.
This could be a win-win move for both parties, but it remains to be seen if anybody in these front offices is entertaining any of that.