The Cavs are a rumored destination for disgruntled 76ers forward Ben Simmons.
Reports suggest that alongside a few big-city teams, Ben Simmons maintains some interest to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That alone merits serious effort on the part of the franchise to try and trade for the three-time NBA All-Star.
There are also a couple of other reasons.
For one, the Cavs could actually be going into discussions with some leverage. While rumors had Philly asking for a king’s ransom in trade talks, they now appear to be operating at a slight disadvantage.
According to a report by Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, the 6-foot-9 forward no longer wants to be a Sixer and does not intend to report to training camp when it opens at the end of the month.
Secondly, any deal to bring a big name to Northeast Ohio will not be in any way similar to the Toronto Raptors’ one-year rental of Kawhi Leonard a couple of years ago.
Simmons had just signed a $170M max extension with the Sixers in 2019, a contract that should run through 2025. Landing a perennial NBA All-Star on a long-term deal? Now that’s a luxury that does not come around often for small market teams like the Cavs.
Still just 25 years of age, he is also only slightly older than Cleveland’s young core and will fit right in with the timeline.
Locked On Cavs podcast host Evan Dammarell revealed that an executive mentioned one of the Cavs’ rising stars as one of the factors in Simmons not being averted to a potential move. Per his story on Right Down Euclid:
"“Ben is super close with Darius Garland through sharing the same agency in Klutch. That’s one of the driving factors in his openness to going to Cleveland,” said an Eastern Conference executive."
Simmons also reportedly wants a fresh start where he can be wanted and appreciated as the team’s best player.
If there is one thing about Cleveland sports fans, it is their passion and commitment in supporting their teams and players (Perhaps except for some who have effectively fallen out of favor, like Kevin Love and his bloated contract).
But of course, it’s not all roses.
A talent like Ben Simmons definitely elevates both the floor and ceiling of the team, but at what cost?
Giving up the team’s leading scorer and best defensive wing does appear to be too hefty a price to pay. Any potential deal will certainly revolve around the same group of young players and future picks.
Simmons is somewhat of an offensive liability with his inability to consistently hit free throws, let alone spacing the floor with any semblance of a proper jumper both within and beyond the three-point arc.
On the other hand, the 6-foot-9 ‘point forward’ is still considered a generation talent: he has great size, above-average playmaking, and is an excellent defensive player. For all the criticisms surrounding his offensive shortcomings, he still tallied nearly seven assists to go with over 14 points and seven rebounds per outing last season.
As it stands, teams like the Portland Trail Blazers or the Golden State Warriors are in a much better position (and fit) to land the Australian star forward. Heck, word is even the Minnesota Timberwolves are in the mix.
The Cavs have to ask themselves if trading away several rising stars plus potential lottery selections is really worth it? That’s a dilemma for General Manager Koby Altman and the rest of the front office to figure out, but one has to believe it’s at least something worth exploring.
While there is no real metric to determine the ceiling for the members of the ‘Core Five’, we have enough sample size to know what we are getting with Simmons: flawed, but still one heck of a basketball player, better than any of the guys already occupying space in Cleveland’s locker room.
As the Cavs’ next-door neighbors at Progressive Field might say, you can’t hit a home run if you don’t take a swing.