While the Toronto Raptors were one of several teams to call Daryl Morey and figure out if the Philadelphia 76ers were willing to trade Ben Simmons back in the 2021 offseason, nothing really ever materialized. The main reason for this, unquestionably, was Morey’s ridiculously high asking price.
According to Matt Moore of The Action Network, the 76ers wanted a package centered around Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, and O.G. Anunoby in exchange for Simmons. Morey essentially wanted three starters and the No. 4 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, which eventually became Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.
After getting his trade to the Nets, Simmons appeared to be the missing defensive piece that will help Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving become championship contenders. While he did manage to beat the Raptors, the overall returns have been less than impressive.
Simmons has scored just 17 points in three games, fouling out in losses against the Pelicans and Grizzlies. Imagine if Simmons was averaging five points per game in Toronto while Barnes and VanVleet ball out in Philly. At least Simmons is Brooklyn’s problem now.
Toronto Raptors fans should be thankful they didn’t get Ben Simmons.
Rather than trade all those assets, Toronto held onto most of those assets while flipping Lowry to the Heat for Precious Achiuwa. Is it fair to say that Achiuwa has been a flat-out better player than Simmons this season? Absolutely! His 22 rebounds against Miami proved that.
While the Raptors were a better team than the Nets last season, part of the reason that some preseason prognosticators were bullish on Brooklyn was Simmons allegedly providing his usual blend of All-Defensive Team perimeter stopping and finishing at the rim. Simmons looks so scared and timid on offense that it’s heartbreaking.
Rather than hitch their wagon to an injury-prone declining asset, Toronto told Morey that he was being utterly ridiculous in Simmons talks. The Raptors refused to engage much further, instead building a 48-win team around all the assets that would have been allocated to Philly.
Are they such a bad situation now, Ben?
Aggression is always nice to see from executives like Masai Ujiri, but restraint can often be just as important when it comes to sustaining a winning formula. Simmons is now free to make Nets fans rip the hair off their heads while the Raptors look to show that they are well-equipped to become a contender in the Eastern Conference.