Let’s get it back to the NBA.
You may have heard that the Portland Trail Blazers fired General Manager Neil Olshey. They’re 11-13 and currently 10th in the Western Conference under first-year head coach Chauncey Billups.
Naturally, Sixers fans wonder if change at the top would jar loose Damian Lillard, who was the de facto 1A target in the Ben Simmons trade rumor machine. Would Dame come to Philly to play with Joel Embiid?
Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Trail Blazers’ league-worst defense would instantly improve, and sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter could work given Lillard’s high-volume usage.
Sources say the Trail Blazers, under Olshey, discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia. The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected. Olshey maintained significant confidence in the roster he constructed. Now, it’s unclear if there’s a deal to be had with the 76ers. But with Olshey out, who among chair Jody Allen, vice chair Bert Kolde and Cronin would be the one making the call on a Simmons trade or any acquisition designed to alleviate Lillard’s concerns?
Lillard isn’t playing well right now. He’s only shooting 30% from three and averaging 21.5 PPG, which is his lowest number since the 2014-15 season. McCollum is doing what he normally does. Shooting between 37% and 40% from three, putting up 20 a night, and being a 1b scoring option on the Blazers. Doing a Portland deal would hinge on how much you like Simons and Little, who are 22 and 21 years old, respectively. Simons is a 6’3″ shooting guard who is averaging 12 PPG and shooting 38% from three. Little is an athletic, two-way forward with some bounce, a solid product who has shown some flashes early in his career.
Honestly, I think McCollum + Simons or Little + a pick is good value in a Ben return, I just don’t think you get a “difference maker” coming back, and that’s what Daryl Morey is looking for.
Here’s the full article for your reading pleasure:
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) December 6, 2021