Last week, we heard from The Athletic’s Shams Charania about a
new team who has entered the long drawn out Ben Simmons
sweepstakes. The Charlotte Hornets have reportedly made an inquiry about
Simmons’ availability. Charania relayed that Charlotte and the
Philadelphia 76ers had yet to have serious conversations, but, the
more you think about it, the fit between Simmons and the Hornets
seems perfect on paper.
After a historically bad start to the season defensively,
Charlotte has turned the corner as of late, showing real promise as
a potential playoff threat. Since Christmas, the Hornets are 11-6
while also being No. 11 in Defensive Rating (109.0).
Checking in with a 28-23 record, Charlotte is the No. 7 seed in
the Eastern Conference with 11 days to go before the trade
deadline. Over the last five weeks, only the Miami Heat and 76ers
have more wins than Charlotte in the East.
With a ready-made second-year pro in LaMelo Ball taking the leap
to young stardom, the Hornets stand out as an underrated potential
buyer. With the hardest part of the rebuilding process done with
Ball as the centerpiece, how much faster could the Hornets' rise
get if they decided to get aggressive?
If Charlotte feels it is ready to make a win-now splash and make
a bigger push up the standings, Simmons is the stick of dynamite
that would accomplish it.
Could you imagine LaMelo Ball and Simmons’ playmaking wizardry
sharing the court together, running pick-and-rolls and feasting in
transition? It’s a match made in heaven for a potential Simmons
fit, and a team who seems one big move away from staking their
claim in the East.
Simmons would be used to his highest capabilities in James
Borrego's system as well. Not only would he still be used as a
primary playmaker at times, but Simmons could be a souped-up
small-ball mismatch weapon while in the frontcourt alongside
Sixers president Daryl Morey has let it be known for a while
that he won’t sell Simmons off for a price he feels is lower than
what the former No. 1 overall pick could return for Philadelphia.
However, with the way Joel Embiid has put the whole team on his
back at a historically high usage rate, Morey and Co. need to
realize the time is now to strike while the iron is hot. Embiid is
the MVP frontrunner who could vault the Sixers to real title
contention with a smart move and accentuate their 2022 window and
Charlotte has multiple pieces who could appeal to Philadelphia,
especially from a short and long-term viewpoint. Would the Hornets
be willing to swap out potential All-Star reserve Miles Bridges,
who will be due a massive rookie-scale extension this offseason,
for Simmons? The Hornets would also be able to provide ideal
complementary pieces alongside Embiid in Gordon Hayward and/or
So, let’s go ahead and cobble together a potential win-win
scenario for both Philadelphia and Charlotte in a Simmons
Sixers receive: Gordon Hayward, Miles Bridges, draft
Hornets receive: Ben Simmons
This might be a tough pill for some Hornets fans to swallow, but
it’s hard to envision Simmons coming to Charlotte unless the
franchise parted with the enticing upside of Bridges. Philadelphia
wants a “top-40” player in return for Simmons, and Bridges is the
best bet of checking that box on the Hornets’ roster.
The Sixers have also reportedly tried to throw Tobias Harris’
max contract in trade talks with Simmons. Charlotte has enough
roster flexibility to absorb Harris if the team truly wanted to
push the chips all-in for Simmons.
Sixers receive: Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, Kelly
Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee, draft compensation
Hornets receive: Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris
It would be a wholesale change on both sides with this potential
return package, but again, the Hornets can financially appease the
Sixers in whichever route they want to go.
From Charlotte’s point of view, is Simmons the player to push
the all-in button on? Absolutely. Not only would Simmons and Ball
become a dynamic foundation to build a roster around, but there’s
still some flexibility to bring pieces around them. If the Hornets
were to keep Bridges in this scenario, he would be an ideal player
on the wing who could thrive alongside the Ball-Simmons duo. In a
market like Charlotte, or any other one not on the limelight-tier
level of New York and Los Angeles, the easiest way to bring aboard
stars is internal player development and taking swings in the trade
Many believed the Simmons melodrama would come to an end before
the regular season began. Now, there’s dimmer possibilities for
Simmons behind shipped out of Philadelphia as Morey remains dug in
on his high asking price.
If there’s any potential ending soon on the horizon to this
ongoing situation, Charlotte stands out much more than the other
potential teams to take a swing and make the Sixers also happy in
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