It looks like the Kings will no longer be pursuing Ben Simmons ahead of the NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline.
The Kings have “ended their pursuit of a deal with the 76ers” for the three-time All-Star, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Sacramento reportedly believes the asking price for Simmons is “too steep” and that “a pathway to reaching an agreement doesn’t exist.”
Wojnarowski adds that the Kings are one of the “most aggressive teams in the market” and were once an “eager suitor” for Simmons.
Inside of two weeks until the February 10 NBA trade deadline, the Kings believe the asking price for Simmons is too steep and that a pathway to reaching an agreement with the Sixers doesn’t exist, sources said.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 28, 2022
Earlier this month, Wojnarowski reported that some teams have described Philadelphia’s asking price for Simmons as growing, not declining, despite him not having played a single game this season. NBA insider Marc Stein wrote on his Substack on Friday that it’s gotten to the point where the “overwhelming majority” of 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s peers will be surprised if he finds a deal he likes before the trade deadline.
What are the 76ers looking for in a Ben Simmons trade?
In short, a lot.
On Aug. 2, The Athletic’s David Aldridge provided some insight into what the 76ers are seeking in return for Simmons: four future first-round picks and an All-Star caliber player in “most (but not all) scenarios.”
Which players fit under the “All-Star caliber” umbrella wasn’t clear at the time, but the 76ers have reportedly expressed some level of interest in the likes of Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Jaylen Brown and James Harden in the months since Aldridge’s report was published. Lillard and Brown are both under contract for a few more seasons, but Beal and Harden both have player options in their contracts for 2022-23, making them potential free agents and sign-and-trade candidates this offseason.
The 76ers seem to be confident that they’ll have a better chance of getting the star they’re looking for during the offseason as opposed to before the trade deadline.
Morey and the Sixers have remained committed to the belief that the offseason could deliver the availability of higher-profile players into the trade market for Simmons. Along with free agency, playoff disappointments often give teams and star players reason to pursue change, which could offer the Sixers a wider spectrum of options.
In other words, Morey wasn’t lying when he said people should “buckle in.”