Earlier on Monday, a report from NBC Sports‘ Tom Haberstroh brought up the idea of the Philadelphia 76ers, fresh off a tense Game 7 loss to the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference semifinals, trading Ben Simmons to the Los Angeles Lakers for LeBron James. In his piece, Haberstroh cited an unnamed “rival executive” who suggested that the Sixers “very well might explore” the potential trade, even if there hasn’t been any sign suggesting that the team wants to trade their star point guard.
Furthermore, he speculated that the Lakers might as well put James on the trading block since they likely won’t be able to chase for a championship within the next two seasons.
Hours after Haberstroh’s report was published, Lakers-centric SBNation blog Silver Screen and Roll shared an extensive breakdown of the trade rumor, positing that a Simmons-for-James deal “doesn’t make much sense on a few levels,” starting with the Sixers standout likely being a poor on-court fit with the Lakers’ young core. As pointed out by the publication’s Anthony Irwin, Simmons has obvious talent despite his current weaknesses as a shooter, but probably won’t be able to mesh with Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball or forward/guard Brandon Ingram.
“Trading either Ball or Ingram at this point is probably a nonstarter given their current injury statuses and overall value right now, so building a roster around Simmons becomes a tremendously difficult task,” Irwin added.
Moving on to the off-court implications of a potential trade involving Ben Simmons and LeBron James, Irwin wrote that such a deal would likely be a big blow to the Lakers’ brand and an admission that the franchise “was not ready for the expectations” that come with landing one of the greatest players in NBA history. He added that such a move would mark the “absolute low-point” in the history of an organization that had missed the playoffs for the last six seasons, essentially “[falling] through rock bottom” in the process.
In addition, Irwin said that if the Lakers wanted to trade James in order to avoid people from his camp, such as his agent, Rich Paul, sending him to the Sixers for Simmons wouldn’t make sense because the two stars share the same representation.
Detailing the final reason why he believes a James-for-Simmons trade isn’t plausible, Irwin wrote that it would be “incredibly complicated” to deal LeBron, who earns about $35 million a year, for someone like Simmons, whose contract only has a cap hit of about $6 million. As explained, making this trade work financially could force the Sixers to let their top three would-be free agents — Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and J.J. Redick — sign with other teams in the offseason.
Although talk of the Lakers trading James has been speculated since the team was in the middle of an extended swoon that ultimately cost them a shot at the playoffs this season, it appears that the four-time NBA MVP doesn’t have any plans of playing elsewhere before his contract with the Lakers expires.
As cited by Bleacher Report, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said on Monday that based on his sources, James doesn’t intend to ask for a trade. The Lakers, on their end, “will not trade him either” despite how people outside basketball circles have reportedly been telling team owner Jeanie Buss to “get rid” of her top player, Smith added.