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Joel Embiid is in the process of establishing himself as a Most Valuable Player candidate.
Jimmy Butler is headed toward a max-contract deal this summer.
Yet the Philadelphia 76ers have yet to establish themselves as one of the NBA’s elite teams, the latest evidence being provided in a Christmas Day overtime loss to the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.
All of which leads to this — would the Sixers consider dealing point guard Ben Simmons and his irregular jumper in order to construct a more-reliable Big Three?
— BBiomechanics (@BBiomechanics) December 28, 2018
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 29, 2018
“Look, Simmons struggles the most against the most elite defenses. Boston is very, very perfectly geared to frustrate him with their personnel, with their intelligence, with their overall aptitude defensively, so I think Simmons looked worse on Christmas than he’s looked on the average game,” Golliver said.
“Now that being acknowledged, I’ve had serious questions about his fit in Philadelphia ever since the Butler trade happened. I think that they can still be a second round playoff team with this group, but I’m not sure if the best team built around Joel Embiid, if you’ve also got Jimmy Butler locked in —and look, they have to re-sign him or else that trade was an absolute mess — I tend to agree that Simmons isn’t a part of this group moving forward.
“And I would seriously explore tradng Simmons next summer, because he’ll still be on the rookie contract, because teams would view him as being capable of being a No. 1 option. I think teams would say he’s just not a perfect fit with Embiid and there’d be significant trade value.”
Mahoney agree with the perception the pieces just don’t quite seem to fit with the Sixers.
“I think it’s really reasonable to look at the Sixers and think that those pieces don’t fit quite right, or at least they’re not 100 percent in alignment with one another,” he said. “But I think teams can win that way, though. When you look at the Chris Paul–Blake Griffin Clippers, what held that team back was that it didn’t have the supplementary pieces, much like the Sixers don’t. That’s a really shallow team. It wasn’t that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan took up the same places on the floor.
“Talented players can make those things work. If you have enough playmaking on a team and just enough shooting on a team, you can keep things clear and keep things flowing. I think the Sixers have a lot to learn as far as that stuff goes.”