Three moves the 76ers could make before the trade deadline that don’t include Ben Simmons

The biggest question across the NBA leading up to the February 10 trading deadline is whether the Philadelphia 76ers will (finally) trade Ben Simmons, the disgruntled All-Star striker, or if the Simmons-Sixers showdown will drag on until the end of the season. Simmons hasn’t played in a single game for Philadelphia this season after asking for a deal over the summer, but the Sixers want to make sure they get back good value when they eventually move to the previous year’s selection.

Despite the fact that a lot of fans in Philadelphia would have liked to see Simmons actually trade, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has made it clear that he plans to employ a patient approach to the process. Back in October, he warned that the process of finding a new NBA home for Simmons could take “four years” (the entire time remaining in Simmons’ current contract).

At the time, many assumed that this was an exaggeration and that the Sixers would eventually have to take the best offer available before the deadline. However, during his recent radio appearance, Morey pressed the brakes on such speculation by saying that a deal being done in the next few weeks was “less likely than likely,” although he noted that if Simmons remains on the roster after the deadline, It will not be due to lack of effort at the end of the organisation. Anything an executive says in public should be taken into account, but it seems certain that there is at least a chance that the three-time All-Star game won’t be moved by February 10.

While moving Simmons is Philadelphia’s clearest path to improving the roster around MVP candidate Joel Embiid, it isn’t the only path. Here’s a look at three deals that don’t include Simmons that the Sixers can make in the name of instant improvement before the deadline.

76ers receive: CJ McCollum

Blazers receiving: Tobias Harris, Draft 2022 (first round)

It definitely looks as if the Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum duo have taken their course in Portland. The roster needs a change, and since the Organization and Lillard appear to be tied at the hip (at least in public), McCollum will likely eventually be moved. In this case, the Blazers will get a strong periphery player in Harris to play alongside Lillard and Norman Powell, and they will also get a first-round pick in the deal.

At Philadelphia, McCollum has been providing the Sixers with a back-court player capable of consistently making their attack—something they desperately need. He’s the kind of player you can give the ball to in late-play situations, or when the shot clock runs out, and he can make something happen. Plus, he’s likely to do much better alongside Embiid than Harris. This trade would leave Sixers weak in the Power Forward position, but this issue can be addressed separately. For Philadelphia, this deal essentially amounts to trading Harris’ contract for McCollum’s contract, both of which will expire in 2024. That seems likely to be a worthwhile trade-off.

76ers receive: Eric Gordon

Missile Reception: Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz, 2023 draft pick (Second round)

The missiles are in the midst of a rebuild, so Gordon doesn’t really fit the schedule moving forward. With this deal, the Rockets will exit the contract of Gordon (Green’s deal not guaranteed for next season), Korkmaz’s strong young shooter on a team friendly deal through 2024, and a second-round pick to add to the war chest.

In Gordon, the Sixers will have a legitimate ground break and an offensive option, albeit most likely out of his head. However, Gordon is still averaging 14.8 points per game this season while shooting 45 percent from distance — second in the entire NBA behind only PJ Tucker. Sixers can always use additional shooting and recording around the Embiid, and Gordon will provide that.

76ers receive: Goran Dragic, Utah Watanabe

Raptors receive: Danny Green, Furkan Korkmaz, George Niang, 2023 draft pick (Second round)

Dragic is completely out of trading in Toronto, so trade seems inevitable. In this scenario, the Raptors would regain Danny Green, who won a title with the team in 2019 and has an unsecured contract next season, along with serviceable ground breaks at Korkmaz and Niang, and a second-round draft pick. Choose from Philadelphia. Not a bad return for a player who doesn’t contribute at all. Watanabe must be included to make payroll work.

The Sixers have always needed a seasoned guard capable of generating their attack when needed, and Dragic will provide that. He expects to be a strong complement to Embiid, and a reliable backup behind sophomore guard Tyrese Maxey. He and Maxi will probably play together sometimes. Hey, if it doesn’t work out in Philadelphia, there’s no long-term damage to the deal as Dragic is assigned to unrestricted free agency after the season.

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