The Philadelphia 76ers have never stopped looking for a potential trade partner to unload the malcontent that is Ben Simmons. Now, this week provides another opportunity to find the right deal.
Wednesday will see another 19% of the league’s players become eligible to be traded this season, increasing that number league-wide from 65% to 84%, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
And the New York Knicks could very well be in the mix.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported on Monday that the Knicks are one of seven teams that have shown interest in Simmons, who has not appeared for the 76ers this season after holding out for most of training camp and then alerting the organization that he was not mentally ready to suit up for the Philadelphia club.
He is getting help from personal mental health specialists and has given the 76ers permission to allow a team therapist to speak with his personal therapist, per Charania.
The other teams reportedly interested include the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Sixers president Daryl Morey won’t likely come down from his high asking price, which includes an All-Star caliber player and multiple first-round draft picks. After all, Simmons is a three-time All-Star at the age of 25, one of the elite defensive guards in the NBA — though his offensive game has been a liability in Philadelphia — and is under team control through the 2024-25 season.
The Knicks suddenly find themselves in a point-guard quandary after Kemba Waker — a hometown product who was exalted upon his return to New York just a few months ago — was dropped from the playing rotation by head coach Tom Thibodeau.
It has forced the Knicks to rely on a rotation of Alec Burks, Derrick Rose, and Immanuel Quickley. They even turned to rookie Quentin Grimes for his first-ever start on Sunday against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Simmons would certainly fit Thibodeau’s need for a defensive stalwart that could reel things back in for a Knicks team whose league-leading defense from last season is now just a mediocre unit amidst a 7-14 stretch of play.
The Knicks also have the draft capital the 76ers are interested in, potentially possessing as many as four first-round picks over the next two years.