How badly do the Sacramento Kings want Ben Simmons?
Multiple sources previously said the Western Conference team was willing to complete a deal for Simmons and Tobias Harris. And the Kings still have interest in acquiring the 76ers’ two highest-paid players this season, according to sources.
One source said Sacramento has considered packaging Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, Harrison Barnes, and two first-round picks for Simmons, Harris, and Matisse Thybulle. The source said the Sixers aren’t interested in that package.
Another source said the Sixers haven’t received a formal trade offer at this time. The source added that none of those talks has involved Thybulle or any of the Sixers’ other young players. Speaking of Thybulle specifically, the source added the second-team All-Defensive selection is close to being untouchable.
However, the Kings have contacted people around the league in order to get background information on Thybulle, Isaiah Joe, and Paul Reed, according to sources.
League executives believe the Sixers are content with holding onto Simmons throughout this season and moving him in the offseason.
But this isn’t the first time Harris’ name has come up in trade discussions involving Simmons.
Last week, the Atlanta Hawks considered sending John Collins, Cam Reddish, and a first-round pick to the Sixers in exchange for Simmons, according to sources. However, the talks stopped after Harris’ name was brought into the deal.
The Sixers denied a report that said they’re packaging Harris with Simmons. However, multiple teams around the league say that’s the case. Multiple league sources have even said the Sixers are shopping Harris, which has also been denied.
The Kings know the Sixers aren’t interested in acquiring standout point guard De’Aaron Fox in a deal for Simmons. A source said that’s why the Kings want to include Barnes. The power forward’s $20.2 million could help make salaries match up. Barnes is also someone who has value around the NBA.
But, intent on getting Simmons, a source said the Kings are trying to find a way to acquire Harris, who’s also a power forward. They would either trade for him or find a third team willing to take Harris in a multi-team trade, according to a league source.
At this time, the two sides have not gained any significant traction on a deal ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline.
But to make the possible deal, the Kings would most likely have to add an extra piece or get a third team involved to make the salaries add up.
Harris ($35.9 million), Simmons ($33M), and Thybulle ($2.8M) make a combined $71.7 million. Meanwhile, Hield ($23M), Barnes ($20.2M), and Haliburton ($4M) combine to make $47.2 million.
The Kings would have to use their $3.6 million trade exception, take Thybulle in and add another piece to make the deal work. One option would be using Tristan Thompson’s expiring $9.7 million contract.
The best deal salary-wise would include Fox ($28.1M), Barnes, and Hield for Simmons and Harris. The three Kings make a combined $71.3M. But sources have repeatedly said the Sixers are not interested in a deal involving Fox unless he’s shipped to a third team.
Time will tell if they change their mind.
But would Haliburton, Barnes, and Hield propel the Sixers to NBA championship contention?
The Sixers’ position that they’re not going to trade Simmons just to make a trade has been consistent. They want an All-Star-caliber player in return who will help them win a championship.
Barnes is averaging 16.2 points and 6.1 rebounds while shooting a career-best 41.9% on three-pointers. Despite that, he’s looked upon more as a role player on an elite team. Meanwhile, Hield is a volume shooter who doesn’t play defense and is paid handsomely for a player who started just six of his 46 appearances this season. The sixth-year veteran’s 15.6-point average is his lowest since averaging 13.5 in his second season. Meanwhile, his 38.5% from three-point distance is the lowest since he shot 36.9% as a New Orleans Pelicans rookie before being traded to the Kings.
Haliburton, the 12th pick of the 2020 draft, is a good young guard, averaging 13.7 points and shooting 42.7% from three. But how good he’s going to become is yet to be seen.
Simmons has yet to play this season after telling the Sixers in August he wanted to be traded. The three-time All-Star point guard has been adamant that he’ll never play another game for the organization. A source confirmed that Simmons intends to sit out the remainder of the season if not moved by the trade deadline.
The Sixers are continuing to fine Simmons for games missed, according to sources. However, they’re no longer fining him for small indiscretions like failing to tape his ankles for practice.