As soon as the trade buzz surrounding Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons started to pick up, Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors were mentioned as a potential landing spot. With their desire to get younger and more versatile paired with their disappointing 2020-21 season, the move made some sense in a vacuum.
However, both Simmons and the 76ers have done everything possible to completely destroy any semblance of normalcy. In addition to Morey holding out for a ridiculous haul involving multiple elite players and first-round draft picks, Simmons has been so abrasive and disconnected that potential buyers might be turned off.
Simmons’ demand to be traded reached a boiling point on Tuesday, when he was kicked out of practice by Doc Rivers for refusing to participate in a defensive drill. It’s fun to joke about Simmons’ shot, but he’s so talented that insiders like Marc Stein are trying to whip up trade speculation in spite of all his baggage.
Stein (subscription required) mentioned that despite the fact that Simmons has been so petulant and determined to hurt his value, the 76ers could be interested to make a move for OG Anunoby (yes, seriously) and veteran scorer Goran Dragic to help the backcourt.
While this is still a projection, someone as plugged in as Stein likely wouldn’t mention those names for no reason. Having said that, if that offer is put on the table by Morey and Philadelphia is unwilling to lower their demands, Ujiri might fall out of his chair in laughter.
The Raptors should refuse any attempt at a Simmons trade, no matter how strong the urge to snag a depreciating asset for pennies on the dollar.
Masai Ujiri and the Toronto Raptors shouldn’t trade for Ben Simmons.
Morey earned some hearty chuckles from Raptors fans in the past by insisting on Fred VanVleet, Anunoby, and a hoard of first-round picks (including the one that would become Scottie Barnes) to get Simmons. With Pascal Siakam off of the market, Morey appears to be trying to get one over on Ujiri and the Raptors.
Anunoby is one of the best defensive players in the game, just like Simmons. Unlike the former LSU star, Anunoby has made an effort to expand his offensive game and become a better shooter. Younger and cheaper, why would Toronto ever consider giving him away in a deal like this?
Just for the sake of argument, let’s say the front office had a legit desire to bring Ben Simmons to the Toronto Raptors. Why would they want him after what he did on Tuesday?
If he is tuned out and fighting with players like Joel Embiid and a coach like Doc Rivers on a championship contender, imagine what could happen if the losses start to pile up in Toronto? This hypothetical move just goes against how this organization is looking to build.
Both parties have taken every opportunity to make this worse. Simmons is hurting his value by refusing to engage with the 76ers, and Morey is prolonging this situation by holding on to a sky-high asking price.
If Simmons gets traded anywhere, it likely won’t be Toronto, especially if Anunoby is in the deal.