Should he stay or should he go now? The Clash and Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey probably don’t have much in common outside of that lone inquiry. Morey, though, continues to canvass the NBA to find another team that could answer him regarding his disgruntled star point guard.
A dozen or so teams — at least — have been involved in hypothetical deals since the summer, but now it appears the Sacramento Kings are prepared to make a Ben Simmons trade their top priority heading into the deadline.
The Sacramento Kings are shooting for their first playoff berth in 16 years
According to RealGM, the last time the Kings made the playoffs was 2006, when they lost in the first round to the San Antonio Spurs. Bonzi Wells was Sacramento’s leading scorer during that series.
The last postseason series victory for the franchise was in 2004 when the Kings beat the Dallas Mavericks in the opening round. Those games marked the final remnants of the Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Peja Stojakovic, Doug Christie teams that nearly made the NBA Finals in 2002.
To say things haven’t been great since then is an understatement.
But with the play-in tournament now available to organizations like Sacramento, a playoff berth becomes more of a reality. Most NBA franchises wouldn’t be shooting for a 10 seed, but this isn’t most NBA franchises.
Should teams be making deadline deals intending to squeak into the play-in tournament? Probably not. But the question here is, should the Kings be going for it. So yeah, maybe.
As of Jan. 19, Sacramento sits 11th in the Western Conference standings. They’re 1.5 games behind Portland, who could be without Damian Lillard for the rest of the season and may go all-in on a rebuild.
The Kings are 4.5 games behind the ninth-seeded Clippers, who are without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, perhaps for the rest of the year, and could be attempting their own mini rebuild.
The tenth seed — and possibly the ninth — are in play for Sacramento. But hmm, how to get there?
I can think of one name (or two).
A trade for Ben Simmons could finally push the franchise to the postseason
Morey and the Sixers now want to attach Tobias Harris onto any Simmons deal.
That makes absolutely no sense for about 98% of the NBA’s organizations. Maybe 99%. But Sacramento could be the single franchise willing to take them both.
In fact, that’s precisely the case, as The Athletic’s Sam Amick recently reported on The Athletic NBA Show podcast:
The Kings, I do believe, are actually pondering the idea of doing Simmons and Harris. I don’t think that’s off the table.
The word from ownership is like, (GM Monte McNair) has been kind of keeping his powder in his gun this entire time … But there is a real expectation for him to make a move now and I think something is going to happen there. I think Simmons is priority one, right?The Athletic’s Sam Amick on the Kings possibly acquiring Ben Simmons
Somewhat unbelievably, that would be 100% the right call.
Sacramento has proven it can’t draft a superstar. And there isn’t one coming in free agency. Going all-in for one via trade is the franchise’s only chance.
If that means bringing Harris aboard as well? Maybe that’s even better.
Lost in the shuffle and all the drama is that Simmons was a superstar-caliber point guard. And Harris has averaged at least 18 points per game since 2016-17 with a career slash line of 47/36/83.
De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, nor Buddy Hield are good as Ben Simmons. Regardless of the package, the Kings are getting the best player in the trade, and this is a franchise that could desperately use a “best player.”
Simmons has become dramatically underrated and could become a franchise cornerstone in Sacramento
No, Simmons is not an isolation scorer. And he’s not going to space the floor or bomb threes.
But he’s been named first-team all-defense twice, has made three All-Star teams, won Rookie of the Year, and was All-NBA in 2019-20.
All before he turned 25 years old.
He has career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists as a nightly triple-double threat.
And at 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, Big Ben’s transition skills remain almost unmatched in the NBA. The only comparison could be Giannis — but the former LSU star’s passing and ball-handling abilities exceed those of the two-time MVP.
Giving Simmons his own team and unleashing him to do what he does best may be the needed change that could spark Sacramento on the path to the much-desired 10 seed.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.