The Philadelphia 76ers continue to search for a trade partner interested in Ben Simmons, and they continue to strike out at every turn. Simply put, no team is willing to pay top dollar for the disgruntled point guard. Desperation may be the only factor that opens the door for a potential Simmons deal.
Enter the Denver Nuggets.
Jamal Murray still hasn’t returned from the torn ACL he suffered in April, P.J. Dozier has been ruled out for the season with his own ACL injury, and now Michael Porter Jr. will be out for the year after he undergoes his third back surgery on Wednesday. The undermanned Nuggets are barely holding onto a playoff spot at 10-10, and the 76ers would be wise to get them on the phone as soon as possible.
The Nuggets are on their way to another lost season
With Nikola Jokic growing into one of the premier players in the NBA, Nuggets fans have hoped their team could’ve at least made it to the NBA Finals at some point over the last few years. But Denver has bowed out of the playoffs in the conference semis or Western Conference Finals three seasons in a row.
The Nuggets had a decent excuse last year. Jamal Murray, just a few weeks before the postseason began, tore his ACL in a game against the Golden State Warriors and still hasn’t returned to the court. Denver did knock off the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round without Murray, but the team couldn’t hang with the Phoenix Suns and got swept in Round 2.
Jokic’s MVP season was ruined by an untimely injury, but it’s only gotten worse this year.
Just a week ago, Dozier suffered a torn ACL and will be out for the rest of the season. Despite Jokic’s incredible play through 20 games, the Nuggets currently stand at 10-10 and in ninth place in the Western Conference. On Monday, the team announced Porter would undergo another back surgery this week and also miss the rest of the year.
With Murray still recovering from his knee injury, Denver is now down three of its top players with most of the season still to be played. Jokic could put together another MVP campaign and still fail to lead the Nuggets to the playoffs.
It’s desperation time in Denver.
The 76ers need to call up the Nuggets about Ben Simmons
The Nuggets have found themselves at a crossroads just a quarter of the way through the season. Do they punt on 2021-22 and waste another year of Jokic’s prime, or do they make a move before the trade deadline and try to make a run through the deep Western Conference?
If Denver does want to go for it all, the 76ers better get them on the phone before it’s too late.
With Porter now out for the season, the Nuggets could be on the hunt for a long, defensive-minded forward to fill his spot. Simmons is technically a point guard, sure, but he’s nearly seven feet tall and weighs 240 pounds. He could fill Porter’s spot in the starting lineup and immediately change Denver’s defensive identity for the better.
The Nuggets have enough offensive firepower with Jokic, Aaron Gordon, Monte Morris, and Will Barton in the starting lineup, so Simmons wouldn’t even be pressured to score much off the dribble. And just imagine the open looks Denver’s shooters would get with two passers as skilled as Jokic and Simmons on the floor at the same time.
Does a Ben Simmons for Jamal Murray swap help both teams?
Daryl Morey still wants a star in return for Simmons, so Murray would be the only name who makes sense in a potential trade with the Nuggets. Both Simmons and Murray are in the second year of their respective five-year contracts, and Denver would only have to add one more player to the deal to make the money work.
But would a Simmons-Murray swap help both teams?
There’s an argument to be made there. Denver has had trouble stopping dominant scorers from filling up the box score in the playoffs. The Nuggets haven’t had a defensive stopper like Simmons on the roster for the last few years, so he would fill a massive void in that respect.
As for the 76ers, they haven’t had a go-to guard who can take over a game and take pressure off Joel Embiid’s shoulders late in games. Murray could instantly become that guy. Philadelphia also has the luxury of being able to wait until Murray is healthy enough to return to the court. This undermanned Denver team doesn’t.
It’s unlikely the Nuggets would pull the trigger on a Simmons trade right now, but desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures.