The Philadelphia 76ers’ season ended Sunday night with a shot from Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, a shot that bounced on the rim four times before landing in the hoop. That basket gave the Raptors a Game 7 win, and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The loss kicks off what’s likely to be a turbulent offseason for Philadelphia, as the team must decide whether to replace coach Brett Brown while also dealing with pending free agents Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and J.J. Redick. The team also must make a decision on a potential contract extension for guard Ben Simmons.
But now there’s a wild rumor circulating about another possible move for the Sixers — a trade of Simmons, possibly to the Los Angeles Lakers, in exchange for LeBron James.
NBC Sports Philadelphia quoted one Western Conference executive as stating that the Sixers might wish to offer such a trade.
“I think they very well might explore that,” a rival executive told reporter Tom Haberstroh.
The rumor is somewhat thin, as there hasn’t been much reporting to back up the notion that the Sixers may consider moving Simmons. Simmons and James are represented by the same agent, Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul, and such connections more often come into play when players are attempting to arrange team-ups, as opposed to trades. In addition, the 34-year-old James is 12 years older than Simmons.
However, there are some reasons to believe this big trade could happen. Philadelphia indeed pursued James when he was a free agent last offseason, and such a trade would give them an intriguing nucleus of James, Joel Embiid, and whichever free agents elected to join them.
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) May 13, 2019
Plus, there have been rumors about Simmons wanting to go to the Lakers for most of his career, especially when he was dating Los Angeles-residing Kendall Jenner. However, the two are said to have split up. There was even a mini-scandal last year in which the Sixers accused the Lakers of tampering with Simmons, after the player proposed a meeting with then-Lakers team executive Magic Johnson.
Trading James — as friends of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss are reportedly pushing for her to do, per The Inquisitr — for Simmons would give the Lakers a young nucleus, one that would pair Simmons with Brandon Ingram. This would also give the team both of the top two picks of the 2016 NBA Draft.
The 76ers have had a lot of roster turnover of late, including two major trades during this past season. Trading Simmons for James would represent more of the same. It’s far from a sure thing, but the offseason is likely to bring even crazier rumors before the summer ends.