Random dribbles on the Cavaliers and Ben Simmons:
1. Let’s start with this — the Cavs remain very interested in Simmons, the 76ers star guard/forward who is coming off a rough Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Hawks.
2. Sources tell me the Cavs are actually one of two teams most actively in pursuit of Simmons, with the Timberwolves being the other.
3. That said, I would still give the odds of a Simmons-to-the-Cavs deal less than 50 percent. The Cavs don’t want to give up Darius Garland, and I don’t know that the Sixers want Collin Sexton. One source told me the Sixers would have to “hide” either of those guards defensively, and that’s a lot to ask from a team that is aiming for a Finals berth.
4. Along with that, while most Cavs fans are hoping the Sixers would take Kevin Love … forget about it (for now). If the Sixers needed a salary to make a Simmons deal work with the Cavs, they would be much more inclined to take back Ricky Rubio‘s expiring $17.8 million deal, sources said.
5. At any rate, if the Cavs and Sixers were to make a trade, you can almost be certain it would involve Sexton. He may not go to Philadelphia, but he would probably go somewhere. Most believe any Simmons trade — Cavs or not — is likely to involve three or more teams.
6. Also, Garland is a Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Agency client. So is Simmons. It’s hard to envision Paul wanting one traded for the other. On top of that, a lot of people around the league believe Garland could be a star, that keeping the ball in his hands will eventually help change the course of the franchise. Many expect this to be a “breakout” season for him.
7. That’s not a shot at Sexton. He has averaged more than 20 points in each of the last two seasons and is making strides as an overall, well-rounded offensive player. He is also a tough player, a competitor, and someone who can break down a defense when all else fails.
8. But there is the matter of his contract, as he’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He is also not viewed as a playmaker/distributor for others. So he’s more of a scoring guard than a traditional point or shooting guard.
9. I have mixed feelings about Simmons on the Cavs. On one hand, he would immediately become their best player, an All-Star in a season in which Cleveland is hosting the game. He is still young (25) and under contract. He is an excellent perimeter defender on a team that could use even just a decent one.
10. And for all the talk about his shooting, his 56 percent career mark is better than anyone else’s on the Cavs aside from Jarrett Allen. And Allen is a center. Simmons can play point guard, point forward and power forward.
11. So I assure you this — Cavs fans would love Simmons and his jersey would be the top seller since LeBron James left. Cleveland would immediately become a playoff contender.
12. That said, my main reservation would be what the Cavs would have to surrender. I sure wouldn’t mortgage the future. Any team with Simmons needs a spot-up perimeter shooter, probably several. The Cavs are already severely lacking in that area. Adding Simmons would have to be just the start. No one man can carry a team alone. We all know that already about the NBA.
13. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is Northeast Ohio product, a graduate of Medina Highland High School. So maybe he would cut the Cavs a break.
14. That’s a joke, of course. Along with “win-now” players, Morey will want a pick or two, perhaps to flip to a rebuilding team for a younger veteran.
15. The bottom line is the Cavs would like to land Simmons. But not at any cost. We have seen general manager Koby Altman make plenty of surprising deals, from the 2018 housecleaning around LeBron to this summer’s trade of Larry Nance Jr. that brought in Lauri Markkanen. Altman is a wheeler and dealer. He is definitely not afraid to shake things up. That warrants consideration when thinking about Simmons.
16. With that in mind, I’d be a bit surprised if the Cavs actually were able to work out a Simmons trade — but far from shocked. The closer training camp gets at the end of the month, the more I suspect that talks between the Cavs, Sixers and others will intensify. Simmons reportedly has indicated he won’t report to camp in Philadelphia. He would in Cleveland.