We can never use the word never in the NBA, but we can get pretty darn close when it comes to Ben Simmons putting on a 76ers jersey again.
The All-Star has not reported for training camp, and despite numerous attempts from his team to convince him otherwise, Simmons has made it clear that he will not play again this season unless it’s in a new city. Front office leader Daryl Morey has reportedly been seeking out trade opportunities this offseason, but his asking price for the $147 million man has been ridiculously high. With that in mind, people have begun to question how long this standoff might go on.
Philly can likely still get a decent package right now for Simmons, but his value isn’t anywhere near what he used to be after that playoff debacle. Of course, his value also is not going to skyrocket any time soon with him staying away from the basketball court. The hope could be that the money Simmons eventually starts to lose out on convinces him to return, but this feels very unlikely when we consider how confident he has been with his decision thus far. Again, regardless of how it happens, a Simmons trade is on the horizon. And while we have had practically no reason to connect the Chicago Bulls to the Simmons sweepstakes, The Ringer’s Logan Murdock on the Real One’s podcast just gave us one.
When talking with co-host Raja Bell about recent comments made by Morey, Murdock brushed over a pretty massive statement (53:30 mark):
“He just said, the normal GM sh*t, that he asked for a trade, we are focused on the players that are here, focused on building a championship team. Like normal sh*t that they would do. Oh, and that he asked for a trade to Chicago, which seems like Chicago would be a lot of dudes. I don’t know if it makes them a title contender, but they’d be a good team. It would kind of be like what Chicago has always been. Like a team that just f**king pushes the hardnosed teams to the break but by and large doesn’t win a title.”
Uh, excuse me!? TELL ME MORE!
Murdock and Bell stopped the Bulls-Simmons conversation there, but that feels like a pretty major nugget to casually sprinkle in at the end of the show. While Simmons holds little leverage in this situation, it still says a lot that he tagged Chicago as the place he wants to be. Could that start any kind of dialogue between the Bulls and 76ers? If so, what the hell would that dialogue even look like?
I mean, we have seen plenty of analysts and talking heads try to hand the 76ers Zach LaVine in an imaginary Simmons trade. There is no question this would be a great return for Philly, but it feels like an excruciatingly dumb move for the Bulls. The organization built its roster around LaVine this Summer, and Arturas Karnisovas just made it very clear they are “committed” to keeping LaVine in Chicago for the long haul. So … yeah … the guy isn’t going anywhere unless he demands it.
Now, if the Bulls could somehow add Simmons to this LaVine-led roster, things could get interesting (don’t forget: Simmons is still a two-time All-Star who is only 25-years-old and one of the best defenders in the league), but could the front office even muster a return Philly likes? It feels highly doubtful without LaVine.
Again, I should specify that Murdock’s comment does not tell us the Bulls have been interested in a Simmons trade. All it does say is that Simmons had his eye on Chicago, which ultimately means little when he doesn’t decide his destiny. I do think it is telling, however, that the Bulls were on Simmons’ list. While the rostering of two fellow Klutch clients (LaVine and Ball) might not hurt the team’s cause, it tells us the Bulls are very much back on the radar.
So this whole thing might have been as crazy as it sounded.
The quote from Logan Murdock on the podcast was clear: He said Simmons asked for a trade TO Chicago. However, if he is basing that off Morey’s Media Day press conference and not some separate conversation, it appears this might not be the case.
The only reference to Chicago Morey recently made publically is when he spoke about WHEN Simmons asked for a trade, saying he did so officially while in Chicago for the draft combine.
Here is the full quote via NBC Sports’ Noah Levick:
“Let me give some background,” Morey said. “They came to us and asked for a trade shortly after the season, his representatives, in Chicago. We were not looking to trade him. To Coach’s point, (he’s a) multi-time All-Star, Defensive Player of the Year (runner-up).”
Uh, yeah, if that is the only reference Murdock is referring to, it appears he may have misunderstood the situation entirely.
Regardless, as we pointed out above, a world where Simmons comes to Chicago continues to feel all kinds of unlikely.