Ben Simmons is the centre of trade speculation. Picture: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Ben Simmons is the centre of trade speculation. Picture: Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Simmons targeted in radical trade plan

BEN Simmons may be one of the most exciting players in the NBA, but could his time in Philadelphia be coming to an end?

It's the question US sports site The Ringer has posed and with Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler taking the reins of the side, there may not be room for Simmons anymore.

Speaking on The Ringer NBA Podcast, host Bill Simmons said he wouldn't be surprised if Simmons was traded within the next year and a half earlier this month.

"It's just a gut feeling. It honestly is the same reason that I think Kevin Durant is going to leave Golden State," Simmons said.

"At some point the city and the fans belong to one player on the team. Philly is Embiid's city. I felt it when I went to that playoff game there. They love Embiid and they're frustrated by Simmons.

"Simmons knows that's not his city. The one thing we've learned this decade is all of these guys want their own team. Even Durant, who goes to somebody else's team, and now two years in it doesn't seem like he's happy."

Ben Simmons's future  at Philadelphia has been the subject of speculation. Picture: AP
Ben Simmons's future at Philadelphia has been the subject of speculation. Picture: AP

This week, NBA writer for The Ringer Jonathan Tjarks doubled down and said Philadelphia's Big Three of Simmons, Embiid and Butler wouldn't work, arguing the city needed to look for more shooters.

"I think they (the 76ers) have got to trade Ben Simmons," Tjarks said on a recent The Ringer NBA Podcast.

"I feel like this is not going to work long term. You've got Jimmy Butler. You've got Joel Embiid. They want the ball. Ben can't play off the ball, Ben needs the ball. It's, like, a pretty simply equation.

"To me, this year in the playoffs, when Jimmy and Joel have the ball, no one's going to guard Ben Simmons and people are going to sour on him really fast.

"I think Ben's very, very talented, obviously, but I think he needs his own team."

Tjarks added the problem comes with all off the "Big Three" demanding the ball.

"You've got Joel and Jimmy Butler, those are both two top-10 players when they're going, and they need the ball," he said.

"So you've got to put guys who can shoot around them. That's just the reality."

Fellow The Ringer writer Kevin O'Connor said he still thought there was time for Simmons to develop in Philadelphia.

 Simmons has been in scintillating form. Picture: AP
Simmons has been in scintillating form. Picture: AP

And with Simmons starting to take mid-range shots - although he is still working out when to seize his moment - he may be more beneficial in another role for the team.

"I think with Ben Simmons, it can work - and I think it has worked with Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler, and those guys also just need more time to develop chemistry with each other," O'Connor said.

"I think one of the things Ben needs is to show a willingness, and Brett Brown (76ers coach) also needs to empower him as a pick-and-roll screener.

"I think you can put Ben in that role where he's screening for Butler and he's rolling down the lane - he can do the Draymond Green thing on the short roll. He can score with finesse or he can score with power like Blake Griffin on lob attempts. I would love to see a bit more of that."

A pick and roll requires the ball carrier to run around a body blocking screen set up by another player and open up a scoring opportunity in the paint for the screener.

Simmons has been averaging 15.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.1 assists and has tallied five triple-doubles.

It's also a strange time to bring it up with the reigning NBA rookie of the year having hit three triple-doubles in his past six games, while missing out on another two in that run by just two assists each time.

When Butler arrived in Philadelphia, the ball playing issue was always meant to blow up for the 76ers.

Butler's messy relationship breakdowns at the Wolves and Bulls marked him a difficult troublemaker.

His arrival as the final member of Philly's new Big Three was always going to prompt concerns about the team's harmony as it was a completely new direction for "The Process".

Maybe Simmons shouldn’t have trusted
Maybe Simmons shouldn’t have trusted "The Process". Picture: Getty Images

TTP or "Trust The Process" has been Philadelphia's mantra for the past five seasons, where the team appeared to trade good players out of the side in order to finish towards the bottom of the ladder in order to get good draft picks.

It was the brainchild of former Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie.

When 213cm Cameroonian Embiid was taken with the third pick of the 2014 draft and Simmons was nabbed in the first pick of the 2016, it appeared as though "The Process" had reaped its benefits.

After four years of 14th and 15th places in the Atlantic division, the 76ers finished third last season, and third overall in the Eastern Conference.

Currently, the 76ers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference and second in the Atlantic.

Adding an All-Star in the form of Butler, fans hoped the "Big Three" might make the difference.

Fans and 76ers media personalities aren't keen to see the 76ers turn their back on Simmons just yet.