It’s not likely that Damian Lillard will trade Ben Simmons
As the Philadelphia 76ers begin to gather momentum in talks about finding a deal for the All-Star Shooting Guard Ben Simmons, the Portland Trail Blazers reiterated that one of the Sixers’ primary goals is the shooting guard Damian Lillard, is not available to be picked or traded, sources told ESPN.
The Sixers and Blazers have been connected in recent days and Portland interim general manager Joe Cronin has explained to Philadelphia that franchise plans are still continuing to build around Lillard as a cornerstone, sources said.
However, the Sixers are becoming more involved on multiple fronts in conversations centered around Simmons. Sources said Philadelphia has been aggressively trying to put together two- and three-team deal structures to present a package that would include the top 25 players.
Lots of increased momentum centers on Wednesday, when several players signed off-season and free agents became eligible to trade. As of December 15, 84% of the 446 players under contract can be included in deals. Currently 65% of league players are eligible.
The Sixers have long been targeting Lillard, who confirmed his desire to stay in Portland early on in the team’s training camp. After the recent dismissal of chief basketball operations Neil Olshei, Cronin has said publicly and privately that the franchise plans to continue building the organization around Lillard. The Blazers have been open to discussing a Simmons deal focused on the shooting range. CJ McCollumBut the sources said that conversation has not gained any momentum.
Simmons has yet to play for Philadelphia this season, citing mental health hurdles to his joining the team. He made a commercial request after the Sixers lost to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks contributed to this report.