On this Thanksgiving Saturday, as you’re slowly recuperating from turkey stupor—gobble, gobble—we’re going to throw some short questions at you from the Blazer’s Edge Mailbag. Usually we spend 1500 words on your Portland Trail Blazers questions, but some queries can be answered more simply, or can’t be answered definitively at all. They’re asked nevertheless, so let’s get some of them in front of you while we have a short schedule break today.
Everyone’s talking about the [Brooklyn] Nets trading Kyrie Irving and even Kevin Durant, but last year Dame said he wanted to play with Ben Simmons. Could they trade him too? If they did, could we get him and would you want him? I’ll hang up and take your answer on air.
That’s an interesting question. Let’s go in order.
Could and/or would the Brooklyn Nets trade Ben Simmons? Yes, I believe so. He’s got three years left on a deal ranging between $35.5 million this year and $40.4 million in 2024-25. From Brooklyn’s point of view, that’s expensive. If Simmons were the missing piece putting them in title contention, he’d be a bargain. That’s not happening at this point. Same if Simmons were a franchise cornerstone to build around. That doesn’t seem to be true either. That leaves the Nets paying big-time starter money to a tweener in their development plans. If they dump Irving and Durant, Simmons won’t be far behind. Or at least he’ll be super-available.
Would the Blazers want him? I think so. The possibility is open. He ticks plenty of boxes for them: defender, ball-handler, facilitator, talented. He could play small forward without blinking. Once upon a time his utter lack of a three-point shot—and offense at all, really—would have put the kibosh on the deal. Nowadays, those factors are less important. Portland has plenty of other scorers. They don’t rely on the three at every position as much.
Given Portland’s financial situation, the price tag for Simmons would look reasonable. His talent, fit, and starting role would nestle him comfortably between the Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard pay levels. The Blazers were already paying CJ McCollum that much before he was traded. They could do so again for the right player.
What they’d have to give up to get Simmons is the most interesting question. The price is lower now than it once was, doubly so if the Nets go into desperation rebuilding mode. Simmons won’t pull a major star anymore. Draft picks would be the most prized commodity for Brooklyn in a rebuilding scenario. A little talent and some cap savings might get the deal done, especially if they’ve hauled in something for Durant besides.
Josh Hart is an obvious candidate to exchange for Simmons. Hart is coming up on a contract year. Simmons would fill Hart’s role and position. The Blazers wouldn’t need both.
Hart’s cap savings isn’t enough to entice Brooklyn, nor would the salaries match. Adding Jusuf Nurkic would just about get the salary match done. Portland would need to throw in pick and/or pick exchanges, though. Also, they’d be left without a starting center. They’d probably do without a traditional pivot for the second half of the season, then try to address the deficiency over the summer. They’d likely get a standard, but not spectacular, five to go with Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Simmons, and Jerami Grant. The lineup would still be plenty dangerous, no matter who the man in the middle ended up being.
Trading Simons for Simmons is another possibility, one I’d assume the Blazers looked less favorably on. In that scenario, they’d probably attempt to re-sign Hart, making their longer-term lineup Lillard, Hart, Simmons, Grant, and Nurkic. Justise Winslow and Keon Johnson would go the other way as ballast for the deal, along with any picks necessary to seal it.
Are these automatic deals for Portland? I don’t think so. Do they merit a look? Quite possibly, should the occasion arise.
Let’s throw this open to all our readers. If the Blazers could do one of these swaps for Ben Simmons, do you think they should? The comment section is open!
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