After coming to terms with losing Kevin Durant this offseason, the Warriors acquired D’Angelo Russell via a sign-and-trade with the Nets for four years and $117 million. They did so with flexibility in mind, likely in hopes they could flip Russell in the future given his fit – or lack thereof – in the backcourt alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson when those star guards return from injury.
Now, Golden State is intrigued by the idea of trading Russell for 76ers star Ben Simmons, according to The Athletic.
“One of the interesting possibilities I’ve heard being kicked around is Russell for Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons,” Marcus Thompson wrote in an article published Wednesday. “The 76ers could use a point guard who can score and run the show – and shoot. Some believe the pairing of Simmons and big man Joel Embiid isn’t viable in their pursuit of a championship. Simmons, as one source told me, is probably the best player the Warriors could possibly get for Russell, just considering the needs of the Warriors and their potential trade partners.”
To make that deal work, however, the two sides would likely have to wait until the offseason. Russell, 23, is owed $27.2 million this season; Simmons, also 23, will earn just $8.1 million. If they wait until the offseason – when Simmons’ extension kicks in – Simmons will be owed $29.2 million, making a deal more feasible financially.
The 76ers perhaps could see Russell as a better fit alongside Embiid given his shooting ability. Simmons has made just two 3-pointers in his career, and often occupies the same spaces on the court as does Embiid. The Sixers’ lack of shooting has threatened to derail their title hopes this season, prompting both Embiid and coach Brett Brown to speak out. Russell is shooting 36.3 percent from behind the arc in 22 games this season, averaging 3.4 makes per game, and could provide the 76ers with more flexibility in their offense.
Simmons would be an interesting fit with the Warriors, given their revolutionary 3-point-shooting, Splash Brothers philosophy. Simmons and Draymond Green play similar roles as facilitators with limited shooting range and agile all-court defenders, but the Warriors could see Simmons as a younger, more talented upgrade over Green, whose best basketball is likely behind him.
The Warriors previously have been mentioned as monitoring Karl-Anthony Towns, who may be growing frustrated in Minnesota.