Another team has reportedly expressed interest in Ben Simmons.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the Celtics have “engaged in conversations with the 76ers” revolving around the three-time All-Star, who remains away from the team.
Charania adds that “talks have been fluid with no traction as of yet.”
The latest from @ShamsCharania‘s Inside Pass:
◻️ Celtics have expressed interest in Ben Simmons
◻️ There remains no imminent resolution regarding a Simmons trade
◻️ Optimism TJ Warren will be able to return in Dec./Jan.
◻️ … and much more ⤵️https://t.co/5Uvjcd2jCP
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 8, 2021
What would a Simmons deal even look like between the 76ers and Celtics? Would a trade make sense?
Let’s take a closer look.
What would a Ben Simmons deal look like between 76ers and Celtics?
Assuming Jayson Tatum is off the table, there are a couple of ways the Celtics could construct a deal for Simmons without gutting their depth.
The first is by building a package around Al Horford, who is on the books for $27.0 million this season. (Horford plus Josh Richardson, for example, gets it done). The second is by building one around Jaylen Brown, who is on the books for $26.8 million this season.
Considering the 76ers have already seen what Horford next to Joel Embiid looks like and the fact that they’re said to be looking to get a star in return for Simmons, it’s safe to assume they’d only be interested in Brown.
MORE: Best potential destinations, offers for Simmons
Brown earned his first All-Star selection last season. He’s off to a strong start this season, averaging a career-best 25.6 points per game on .493/.397.780 shooting splits.
Charania said in his report that any potential Simmons deal would “have to” include Brown.
Would a Ben Simmons-Jaylen Brown swap make sense?
It would be interesting, that’s for sure.
For the 76ers, Brown would give them a go-to scorer on the perimeter who is a good enough shooter to play off of Embiid. Brown isn’t as decorated of a defender as Simmons, but he’s still quite versatile and disruptive on that end of the court. The 76ers would still likely be one of the better defensive teams in the league with Brown on the roster.
Philadelphia’s timeline wouldn’t change much at all either, as Brown is a few months younger than Simmons.
While Simmons wouldn’t be as clean of a fit in Boston as Brown would be in Philadelphia, he’d give the Celtics a boost defensively and his playmaking could be a nice addition to a team that is short on pass-first players. They would likely run into some spacing issues with both Simmons and Robert Williams on the court, but lineups with Horford at center would have the potential to help open up the floor for Simmons to do what he does best.
POWER RANKINGS: Biggest X-Factor on 76ers, Celtics
It helps that Simmons and Horford have played together before. According to PBP Stats, Simmons and Horford played a total of 953 minutes together without Embiid in the 2019-20 season. Lineups featuring them and no Embiid outscored opponents by a healthy margin of 5.8 points per 100 possessions.
As noted by Kyle Neubeck of Philly Voice, Simmons had arguably the best stretch of his career to date when Horford filled in for Embiid at center.
Brown is under contract through the 2023-24 season while Simmons is under contract through the 2024-25 season.
With Brown set to hit free agency one season sooner and Simmons having yet to play this season, it will be interesting to see how much draft compensation would be involved to get a deal done if talks between the 76ers and Celtics progress.
Who says no to the trade?
Before the season began, I presented six different potential packages for Simmons to two members of our staff.
Representing the Celtics, here’s what SN’s Kyle Irving wrote in regards to a Simmons-Brown swap…
Absolutely not. Although it is fun to think about Simmons, Smart, Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams as a defensive unit, I’m not trading Brown for Simmons. If Brown’s not already the better all-around player, I’m certain he will be by the time both of their current contracts run out.
It feels like we know what Simmons’ ceiling is. The same can’t be said for Brown.
Representing the 76ers, here’s what Gilbert McGregor wrote…
Yes. All-Star? Check. Frontcourt depth? Check. Ready to win now? Check.
As the package in return checks all boxes, this is an enticing deal for the Sixers to run things back in a different way. As Kyle said, we don’t know what Brown can become in this league, but I do think he would make for a great partner to roll with Embiid.
That is a move that brings you closer to a title.