The roar of the Raptors crowd hadn’t even quit ringing in the 76ers’ ears before speculation about what Philly’s offseason will look like, and there are theories aplenty – including trading Ben Simmons, 22.
So let the rumors star floating like a Kawhi Leonard jumper from the corner.
According to NBCSports.com, one unidentified Western Conference executive brought up a name that could be a Simmons trade target: LeBron James.
The logic: Simmons’ inability to space the floor around centerpiece Joel Embiid makes him a less-than-ideal fit in Philly, while James, who has two years remaining on his contract before he can become a free agent, would have a better chance with the Sixers than the currently constructed Lakers to compete for championships as he ages.
“I think they very well might explore that,” an unidentified rival executive of the Sixers told NBCSports.com.
Given James’ two-year contract window with the Lakers, can the team realistically rebuild fast enough to contend with the likes of the Warriors, Trail Blazers, Rockets and even Nuggets? Not likely, especially considering the way things have started in this critical offseason: Magic Johnson caught James off-guard by resigning and the team struck out on its top two coaching targets, Monty Williams and Tyronn Lue.
James doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but he and Simmons, 22, share the same agent, Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul.
Getting the money to match up is what makes a LeBron-for-Ben deal tricky. Simmons, who will make $8.1 million in in 2019-20 before his rookie extension could kick in in 2020-21, will have to be packaged with a max-level player, or near it, to match James’ $37.1 million salary for 2020-21. And even that is complicated, as NBCSports.com notes, adding that “(t)he safe money is that the Sixers bring the Philadelphia Phive back for redemption.”
Still, the blockbuster deal is an interesting consideration, especially since many league executives expect a major Sixers shakeup this offseason.
Brett Brown reportedly will be back as coach next season, but Lue turned down the Lakers job and LeBron reunion for a reason: He thinks there’s a better job out there, if not now then later.
Per NBCSports.com: “Could that job be Philly? It’s not available at the moment. But there’s more than just a little chatter about the Sixers and the Lakers being potential trade partners this summer. Crazier things have happened in this league than Lue and James on a Sixers sideline next to Embiid.”