As the 76ers begin their offseason, there will be a flood of trade rumors involving Ben Simmons. Some will be realistic, some not. Part of making trades in the NBA is matching salaries, and if the Sixers are looking to move Simmons, there are players earning comparable salaries who can be moved for him.

There are plenty of other players like Simmons, who are making more than $30 million a season who might have some holes in their game.

ESPN reported on Thursday, and The Inquirer confirmed, that Rich Paul, the agent for Simmons, has met with the Sixers to begin evaluating the next stages of Simmons’ career.

Of course, nothing at this early stage is definite.

You’re signed up to get this newsletter in your inbox every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @Sjnard. Thank you for reading.

— Marc Narducci (offthedribble@inquirer.com)

Potential matches for Simmons

In using the ESPN NBA trade machine, there are several players whose salaries would work in a one-for-one trade for Simmons.

Among them are CJ McCollum of Portland, Gordon Hayward (Charlotte), Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas), Andrew Wiggins (Golden State), Kemba Walker (Oklahoma City), Kevin Love (Cleveland), and D’Angelo Russell (Minnesota). All have flaws, but so does Simmons.

This is not to suggest that any of these players are being discussed, only that these are the parameters for making a trade.

Colleague Ed Barkowitz wrote that the odds on Simmons’ next team are already out. PointsBet opened with Portland (+250) as the favorite. That’s because there have been several Simmons-for-McCollum rumors flying over the internet.

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ Danny Green on Ben Simmons: ‘I think it is a mistake that people think he doesn’t care’ | Off the Dribble

Simmons will be entering the second season of a five-year, $177.2 million deal. McCollum will be entering the first season of a three-year, $100 million extension.

Simmons will turn 25 next month. McCollum will turn 30 in September. Anybody trading for Simmons would be betting on his youth and ability to recover from this year’s poor playoff showing.

Since becoming an NBA regular in his third season, McCollum, out of Lehigh University, has been a consistent scorer. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 21.8 points and shot 39.8% from three-point range, and 83.7% from the foul line.

Simmons would help the most on the defensive end for a Trail Blazers team that is deficient in that area. Portland was 14th among the 16 playoff teams this year in defensive rating during the postseason. The Trail Blazers allowed 122.9 points per 100 possessions. Portland was 29th (next to last) in defensive rating during the regular season (115.3).

The Sixers would need to add a point guard if they did this deal, unless they feel that Seth Curry, a former McCollum teammate, could handle the point.

As with any trade that includes Simmons, there would be plusses and minuses. Any team that would seek to acquire him would be betting that his poor free-throw shooting this postseason could be corrected. Simmons was 10-for-28 (35.7%) against Washington and 15-for-45 (33.3%) against Atlanta.

Starting five

Keith Pompey writes that Joel Embiid breaks away from CAA sports agency.

Joe Juliano writes about who is going to play for the U.S. Olympic basketball team.

Will Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey make a trade in the NBA draft’s first round?

Rob Tornoe writes that former ESPN broadcaster Dan Le Batard called the Philadelphia fans “cruel” for their constant criticism of Simmons.

David Murphy writes that there are no easy answers for Morey and the Sixers, not even when it comes to trading Simmons.

» READ MORE: ESPN mentioned ‘trade request’ in connection with Ben Simmons. Here’s why that’s a Sixers concern. | David Murphy

Young’s postseason domination continues

Sixers fans are sick of seeing Trae Young, but the Atlanta point guard continues to make a huge splash in his first postseason.

For the third time this postseason, the Hawks earned a Game 1 win on the road, beating the Milwaukee Bucks, 116-113, on Wednesday night. Young had 48 points and 11 assists, and according to the team website, he became the first NBA player to score 45 or more points and record 10 or more assists in a conference-finals game.

Young shot 17-for-34, including 4-for-13 from three-point range. He was also 10-for-12 from the foul line.

» READ MORE: Shaq, Magic, and Charles agree. Ben Simmons cannot show his face in the Sixers’ locker room again. | Marcus Hayes

All during the Sixers series, Young continually beat defenders off the dribble and drove to the basket. The same thing happened against Milwaukee and against first-team NBA All-Defensive selection Jrue Holiday, a former Sixer.

Young is among the quickest players with the ball in the NBA, and there isn’t a person who can stop him one-on-one.

It’s not just his scoring. His passing has produced countless highlights, including this feed off the backboard to John Collins on Wednesday.

In the seven-game series against the Sixers, Young averaged 29 points and 10.9 assists. Overall, in 13 playoff games, he is averaging 30.5 points and 10.5 assists.

Important dates

Friday: Game 2 Eastern Conference finals, Atlanta at Milwaukee, 8:30 p.m. TNT

July 19: Deadline for early-entry players to withdraw from the NBA draft (5 p.m.).

July 29: NBA draft.

Aug. 2: Teams can begin negotiating with free agents (6 p.m.).

Aug. 6: Teams can begin signing free agents (12:01 p.m.).

Aug. 8-17: MGM Resorts NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

Passing the rock

Question: What is Simmons’ future with the Sixers? Should the team go after a marquee veteran SG/PG? — Eugene Pough from Facebook

Answer: Thanks for the question, Eugene. Even though Doc Rivers feels that Simmons can rebound and do so with the Sixers, I think it will be difficult for him to come back. While he appears to be a change-of-scenery candidate, no new scenery will help if he doesn’t start making free throws.

It all comes down to that. I feel he wasn’t confident taking the ball to the basket because he didn’t want to get fouled. This is a problem. I think they should get a point guard who is willing to attack the basket, not to mention make free throws.

Have a question? Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@inquirer.com or @sjnard.