The Philadelphia 76ers look like a true title contender on paper. With Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris, there may be no other team in the East with more star-power. Unfortunately, for all their talent, the Sixers have been unable to meet expectations. Embiid's durability remains a huge concern, Simmons' shooting struggles are negatively impacting the team, and something just isn't quite right about the makeup and chemistry of the roster overall.
The more games Philly plays, the more it becomes evident that something needs to change.
Meanwhile, in the West, the Portland Trail Blazers followed up their Western Conference Finals appearance in 2019 with an under .500 performance, and nobody is quite sure why. Sure, the Blazers have dealt with major injuries all season long, but even when most of their major pieces were together, they failed to look like the team they were last spring.
The Dame/CJ partnership is a talented one, but after years of underwhelming finishes, many think it's time for a split.
For both teams, some would argue that change is not only suggested but necessary if they want to improve their standing in their respective conferences.
In an article by Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, both teams may end up helping each other with a star-for-star blockbuster swap: CJ McCollum for Ben Simmons.
“In Portland, Simmons could help Lillard in myriad ways. The two would work magic together in transition and pick-and-rolls, and Simmons could silence the opposition’s top scorer while keeping the offense humming without Lillard,” Buckley wrote.
“For Philly, McCollum could handle the perimeter shot-creating duties while giving Embiid room to work in the post, and the youngsters could expand the rotation (either by logging minutes themselves or fueling another trade).”
The move is a huge risk for both sides, that much is certain, but there is also reason to believe it could do some real good.
Simmons pairing would bolster the Blazers' size, playmaking, and defense -- all things that are currently among their biggest weaknesses (they are one of the NBA's highest volume isolation teams).
McCollum could work wonders in Philadelphia by bolstering their perimeter shooting and giving Embiid more space to shine on the inside.
Even with all the uncertainty, we do know that these next few weeks will be crucial in determining the fate of these two players and their teams as they fight for the glory and success they so desperately desire. What happens during this Orlando restart will change the course for both squads, one way or another.