NBA Free Agency is mostly in the rear view, but that doesn’t mean the offseason over. Between constant trade rumors involving Damian Lillard, and those involving Ben Simmons, it’s very possible that the offseason’s biggest splash is yet to come.
While a number of trade scenarios between Portland, Philly, and typically a third team have been floated all summer long, with rosters being mostly set and Lillard returning from the Olympics, trade speculation is heating back up.
Here’s my latest mock trade (including four teams) sending Lillard to the Sixers.
Sixers GET: Damian Lillard, Robert Covington
Sixers GIVE UP: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Shake Milton, Jaden Springer, Isaiah Joe, 2023 1st RD, 2027 1st RD (top-5 prot.)
Why the Sixers do it:
Giving up Ben Simmons could turn out to be a franchise-crippling mistake if Dame doesn’t produce a title for the Sixers, but this move certainly optimizes their ability to win in the present moment. I figure the package of Curry, Milton, Springer, and a pair of future firsts more than bridges the gap in value between Ben and Dame—enough so to add Covington to the package.
Blazers GET: Tyrese Halliburton, Davion Mitchell, Jaden Springer, Marvin Bagley, Robert Woodard, Isaiah Joe, 2022 1st RD (LAL) 2023 1st RD (PHI), 2023 1st RD (SAC), 2024 1st RD (LAL), 2025 1st RD (SAC), 2027 1st RD (PHI: top-5 prot.)
Blazers GIVE UP: Damian Lillard, Robert Covington
Why the Blazers do it:
Six picks? Six players? Not a bad haul.
Obviously there isn’t a blue-chip asset in this package, but Halliburton is a bird in the hand, and Mitchell would be as strong of a rookie as Portland has added in a while. Springer’s value is higher than his slot suggests, and at just 22 years old Bagley is a good skillset to take a one-year flier on; meanwhile Woodard and Joe are mere sprinkles.
Adding six future first round picks from 2022-2027 is the sort of draft capital commensurate with recent blockbuster trades (Harden, Paul George, etc…), and to add this on top of the players listed above is a king’s ransom. Consider this crop of assets on top of what the Blazers can add by trading McCollum and Nurkic, and Portland could have themselves quite the base for a rebuild—on par with the war chest of assets in Oklahoma City.
Kings GET: Ben Simmons, Shake Milton
Kings GIVE UP: Tyrese Halliburton, Davion Mitchell, Robert Woodard, Marvin Bagley 2023 1st RD (SAC), 2025 1st RD (SAC)
Why the Kings do it:
In the history of their franchise the Kings have never, and will never be offered a player of Simmons‘ ability, and certainly not on a four-year contract. Parting with Halliburton on top of Mitchell (the 8th overall pick) and a pair of future firsts is a tough swallow, but having a ball-handler/shooter in Milton as sprinkles on top of Simmons should help grease the wheels on this deal.
Sacramento’s 15-year playoff drought is the longest active streak in the NBA—10 seasons longer than the next active streak (Bulls: 5). A starting lineup of Fox-Heild-Barnes-Simmons-Holmes, with a bench of Shake Milton, Mo Harkless, Terrence Davis, and Tristan Thompson is as strong of a step toward ending that drought as the franchise has taken in years.
Pelicans GET: Seth Curry, 2023 2nd RD (CHA/ATL/BK most favorable)
Pelicans GIVE UP: 2022 1st RD (LAL), 2024 1st RD (LAL)
Why the Pelicans do it:
I figure the pick from the Lakers in 2022 will be in the late-20’s, and the most favorable 2023 2nd rounder (figuring to be 31-45) has close to similar value. In which case the swap of Seth Curry—a high-end shooter/floor spacer on a team-friendly contract—is a steal for the Lakers unprotected 2024 first rounder.
I shouldn’t need to sell Curry to Pelicans fans, with his fit around Zion and company being more than obvious. There’s another re-work of this deal that sees New Orleans add Heild (a swap that has been rumored all summer), but the Pels get an even more-prolific shooting fix in Curry.