Every team in the NBA has been linked to 76ers guard Ben Simmons, who is said to have been made available in trade talks. Yes, one of those teams is the Cavaliers.
And per Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com, one NBA source seems to think Simmons would offer the Cavs a major boost.
“Who do the Cavs have that compares with Simmons?” Pluto quoted the source as asking. “I’ll tell you — no one. The Cavs are a terrible defensive team, this guy defends, rebounds and passes. He can be a game-changer for the Cavs.”
The source makes a valid point. Simmons, 24, is perhaps the NBA’s absolute best perimeter defender. Meanwhile, the Cavs finished with the 26th worst defense in a 30 team league. That’s not good.
Simmons, 24, is 6-foot-9 and is also one of the NBA’s best creators and distributors. He can finish at the rim. He can set others up for shots.
Just don’t ask him to shoot himself. And most of the time, the Sixers don’t.
That’s because Simmons was a miserable 34 percent on free throws in the playoffs. He has averaged less than nine 3-point attempts a season for his career (5-of-34 total in four years). He proved to be afraid to shoot in the game’s biggest moments during the Eastern Conference semifinals, an upset loss to the Hawks.
But there is plenty to like about Simmons, too. The Cavs have some nice players, but none who have proven to make a difference the way Simmons does. For all his struggles, he still shot 56 percent from the field last season, matching his career average. And the defense … man, it really is good.
Now, there is no reason to believe the Cavs would mortgage the farm for Simmons. In fact, there’s no reason to believe their interest is anything more than “exploratory.”
All we really do know is the Sixers appear very open to moving him for some immediate help. (Word is, they don’t necessarily care about a draft pick.)
Simmons agent, Rich Paul, is from Cleveland. Paul also represents Darius Garland, the Cavs’ starting point guard. So there is a connection. Simmons has even worked out at Garfield Heights High School near Cleveland in the past.
This is also the offseason in which Cavs GM Koby Altman is expected to try to make a little bit of a splash. Altman could very well stay the course, as he’s armed with the No. 3 overall pick and a few “assets,” with talented young players such as Garland, Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen and Isaac Okoro.
It doesn’t seem likely that Altman wants to surrender any of those players. But Allen is a restricted free agent, Sexton is eligible for a rookie-scale extension, and some looming decisions will have to based on the business side of basketball.
With all that in mind, maybe a Simmons trade would be worth exploring. Maybe not, too … but at least one NBA source thinks it would be a good idea.