Daryl Morey’s Obsessive Pursuit of Damian Lillard Could Have Disastrous Consequences

Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey will run the franchise into the ground with his obsessive pursuit of Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and refusal to trade Ben Simmons until Dame becomes available.

The Sixers are dealing with all sorts of internal turmoil at present. Simmons was already deemed the star most likely to be traded, but the team has seemingly alienated him to the point where he no longer has any interest in staying in Philadelphia or even showing up for training camp. All the while, Morey continues to put forth exorbitant asking prices. One of his reasons for doing so is likely because he hopes to ultimately include Simmons in a package for Lillard. It’s the wrong approach, as Morey risks wasting Simmons’ trade value and making a tenuous situation even worse.

Daryl Morey and the Sixers remain adamant about trading for Damian Lillard

The 76ers have long been rumored to have an interest in replacing one star point guard with another.

Philadelphia continues to be linked to Damian Lillard, despite the star Blazers point guard recently stating he did not anticipate playing for another team during the 2021-22 campaign. Portland is also intent on building around Lillard. Still, Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the Sixers have their “eyes set” on Lillard.

Morey’s obsession with waiting on a possible Lillard trade makes sense from a basketball perspective. Lillard is the kind of backcourt scorer and playmaker who would likely thrive alongside Joel Embiid. His shot creation and perimeter scoring ability are necessary attributes for a Sixers team that far too often relied on Embiid to bail them out during the playoffs.

The clearest path to acquiring Lillard is by way of a Ben Simmons trade. The money works, and the Blazers would almost certainly demand Simmons as the centerpiece in a hypothetical package.

But the fact remains: the Blazers do not want to trade Dame. Morey is running the risk of wasting his best trade asset if he continues to hold out hope.

Ben Simmons is demanding a trade

It always seemed a distinct possibility that all the speculation would ultimately prompt Simmons himself to demand a trade from the Sixers. That’s exactly what has happened.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Simmons requested a trade in a meeting with team personnel last week in Los Angeles. The 25-year-old also explained he has no interest in showing up to training camp.

Simmons’ declaration could ultimately force Morey’s hand. Up until this point, he was quite cryptic about the Sixers possibly keeping their All-Star point guard. Perhaps that also explains why he was selling so high on the Defensive Player of the Year candidate.

But Philly can no longer afford to feel out the trade market. Opposing teams simply aren’t balking at the asking price, and time is running out. Not to mention, Morey risks lessening Simmons’ trade value as the situation continues to devolve over time.

Philly needs to act swiftly… or else

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey speaks with Shane Battier
Morey and the Sixers cannot afford to continue clinging to Ben Simmons as trade bait for Damian Lillard | Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Before going any further, it should be said there does seem to be a market for Simmons. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers are two squads that have been linked to him in the past. Maybe the Golden State Warriors will reassert themselves in talks.

But, here’s the thing. The Sixers are bound for what could be a fairly significant transitory period if (and likely when) they trade their polarizing point guard. Wouldn’t it be smarter for Daryl Morey to get that transition started sooner, rather than later? The regular season is just over a month away, after all.

Despite there being a market for Simmons, there’s already a sense that the 76ers star’s value has declined, at least somewhat. Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee reported the Kings would not give up either of De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton in a possible Ben Simmons trade. Do the Sixers really believe they will get a more suitable package if things fester further?

Morey might be intent on holding out for the opportunity to get Damian Lillard in a Sixers jersey. But there’s no telling that opportunity ever presents itself, which could have disastrous consequences in Philly.

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