Unlike Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, there’s no ongoing dispute between Philadelphia 76ers franchise cornerstones Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. However, due to their failure to live up to expectations from a legitimate title contender in the 2019-20 NBA season, rumors continue to circulate that the Sixers might consider breaking their superstar duo in the 2020 offseason. In the scenario that the Sixers decide to trade Simmons and build around Embiid, Andy Bailey of Bleacher Report believes that the Portland Trail Blazers would be an “ideal trade partner” for Philadelphia.
Like the Sixers, the Trail Blazers were also huge disappointments in the 2019-20 season. Before the NBA suspension due to the spread of coronavirus, the Trail Blazers were out of the playoff race, sitting in the No.9 spot in the Western Conference with a 29-37 record. According to Bailey, the Sixers and the Trail Blazers could engage in a blockbuster deal that would send Simmons to Portland in exchange for CJ McCollum, Anfernee Simons, a 2021 first-round pick, and a 2022 second-round pick.
If the trade becomes a reality, it would help both NBA teams improve their roster. Though he doesn’t have a higher ceiling than Simmons, Bailey believes that McCollum would be a better fit alongside Embiid.
“CJ McCollum isn’t as impactful as Simmons (the latter has nearly twice as many wins over replacement player over the last three seasons), but he actually shoots the ball. And he shoots it well. If Philadelphia decides to focus its rebuild on Embiid, it needs players who won’t crowd him inside. This season, McCollum shot an absurd 51.1 percent on two-pointers from 16 feet and out. He’s just a shade under 40 percent from three for his career. He’s also shown an ability to generate his own offense from nothing on the perimeter.”
McCollum would be an incredible addition to the Sixers, giving them an All-Star caliber shooting guard who knows how to co-exist with other NBA superstars. Though he normally plays as a shooting guard, McCollum is capable of making plays for his teammates. With McCollum’s ability to efficiently knock down shots from beyond the arc, his presence would make it easier for Embiid to penetrate the basket or kick the ball out when he’s trapped by the opposing team’s defense.
Meanwhile, the potential deal would force Simmons to move from the point guard to the power forward position. However, Bailey believes that he could still be allowed to initiate the offense in Portland as a “playmaking 4,” which could make him the NBA’s most versatile big man. If he and Damian Lillard manage to build good chemistry, Bailey believes that the Trail Blazers could have a “facsimile” of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.