There’s an easy litmus test that Daryl Morey will be using when evaluating trade offers for Ben Simmons. The rest of us would be wise to use it, too.
If the deal in question had been completed before the Sixers’ playoff series against the Hawks, would they have been in an equal or better position to win? In other words, does this deal make the Sixers a better team, a worse team, or a different but equal team?
Look at things from that perspective, and there’s only one thought when you hear the names Marvin Bagley and Buddy Hield floated as a possible package. Not gonna happen. If it does, the Sixers are in trouble. Big trouble.
The report in question comes courtesy of the Sacramento Bee, in a story that says the Kings are unlikely to include star point guard De’Aaron Fox in any offer for Simmons. That last part is understandable. Obvious even. Could the Sixers put together an offer that makes Sacramento reconsider? Sure. Simmons and Tyrese Maxey? Simmons and Maxey and a heavily-protected first rounder? One would think that any deal for Fox, a 23-year-old ballhandling dynamo who can play both ends of the court and is just an average three-point shot away from being a superstar, would be a Buzz Lightyear sorta thing. To infinity and beyond.
That being said, the Sixers’ sights should be set much higher than a backup big and a one-dimensional shooting guard who hasn’t even been elite lately. That’s what Bagley and Hield are, regardless of what you may have heard about them at varying points of their careers. Hield is a guy whose name has percolated among Sixers fans since the Pelicans snagged him at No. 6 in the 2016 draft.
In his first three seasons in the league, Hield looked set to establish himself as one of the league’s elite three-point shooters, connecting on 41.9 percent of his attempts from downtown, averaging 2.5 makes per game. In 2018-19, he averaged 20.7 points per game while shooting .427 from deep.
Problem is, the Sixers already have a guy who does what Hield does, and does it better for cheaper. And there would have to be a lot of other moving parts to create a sensible lineup that includes both Hield and Seth Curry. Maybe you can find yourself a capable point guard who can also be the best perimeter defender on the team, and maybe that guy (Kyle Lowry?) could allow Hield to play the three. Maybe. But any defense that has Curry, Hield, and Tobias Harris at the 2, 3, and 4 is going to face some major struggles on the defensive end of the court. I know everybody is tired of hearing about defense, but it’s 50 percent of the game. It matters. There’s a reason the Kings are what they have been despite the numbers that Fox and Hield have put up.
Look, can Hield make an impact on a playoff team? Sure, the same way that JJ Redick and Curry have for the Sixers. But neither of those players were owed $62 million over three seasons.
Bagley, meanwhile, has been a big disappointment since the Kings drafted him at No. 2 overall in 2018. He’s played just 118 games in his first three seasons, averaging 25.5 minutes per game. He’s only 21, so there’s still some hope that he can turn himself into an adequate stretch four. But the Sixers already have a stretch four, and a big man.
Reality is, there are only two players on the Kings roster who should make Morey hop on a call. One is Fox. The other is rookie point guard Tyrese Haliburton. The No. 12 pick in last year’s draft, Haliburton was one of the top rookies in the league this season, shooting .409 from three-point range while averaging 13.0 points and 5.3 assists in 30.1 minutes. But Haliburton isn’t close to being the all-around player that Fox is, and it’s fair to wonder whether the Sixers would really be gaining all that much considering the potential of Maxey, who went nine picks after Haliburton in the draft.
The Kings are a good example of the challenge Morey will have in dealing Simmons. He isn’t simply trying to get a nice return. He’s trying to get a return that leaves the Sixers in an equal or better position to compete for a title in 2021-22. There might be a deal like that out there. But this one ain’t it.