It seems like a foregone conclusion that the 25-year-old will be traded at some point, but so far, the Sixers haven’t been able to find a deal they like.
“But multiple sources, including people with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking and also from rival teams involved on the Simmons front, tell The Athletic that the 76ers are believed to prefer to wait in order to pursue Harden or another superstar in the offseason and thus want to save Simmons for that potential sign-and-trade rather than take what’s available on the current market,” wrote Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic.
If the Sixers were to add a player like Harden, they’d certainly become one of the most intimidating teams in the Eastern Conference on paper. However, there are some downsides to the idea of not moving Simmons until the offseason.
For one, the Sixers aren’t likely to make a legitimate NBA Finals push this season unless they either have Simmons on the floor or acquire some new talent in a deal involving the three-time All-Star. Punting on the 2021-22 season would be a shame considering the campaign Joel Embiid is having.
Embiid is firmly in the MVP mix with the way he has kept Philadelphia afloat this season. He’s averaging 28.7 points, 10.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game while maintaining efficient shooting clips.
Separately, if the Sixers wait until the offseason to deal Simmons, they’ll have wasted a full season of his contract, thus likely diminishing his value slightly.
Time will tell which route Philadelphia chooses to go with the former No. 1 overall pick. This season, the team is working on a 27-19 record, which is good for the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference.