From the moment it was clear Ben Simmons could get traded this offseason — meaning the minute he passed up a dunk in crunch time of a second-round playoff game — one option being floated was a swap for D'Angelo Russell of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Apparently, some in the Minnesota power structure “badly” want that to happen, reports the connected Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News in Minneapolis.
How badly do the #Timberwolves want to trade for Ben Simmons?
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) June 27, 2021
“I texted with someone that knows Ben Simmons incredibly well, that has working knowledge of all things NBA… My text was, ‘How badly do the Wolves want to trade for Ben Simmons?’ This individual sent me a text, it was one word: ‘Badly.'”
Wolfson has long been seen as having sources with the outgoing Glen Taylor ownership group in Minnesota.
Since there is zero chance Minnesota would send out Karl-Anthony Towns (Philly has an elite center already anyway) or promising young player Anthony Edwards, this trade would need to be Russell for Simmons. Those two can be traded straight up for one another financially, but Philly would want more back in such a trade, either draft compensation or a player they like (Malik Beasley?).
For Minnesota, this trade makes sense. The Timberwolves need perimeter defensive help and Simmons is an elite defender who can guard point guards through stretch fours. Simmons is flawed as a playmaker in the halfcourt but — if they can build his confidence back up — has value with the ball in his hands in transition and the Timberwolves played at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA last season. The only real question becomes how Towns would feel about this trade, he wanted Russell in Minnesota, but on paper this should be an upgrade for a Timberwolves team looking to get into the playoff mix in the West.
Is it an upgrade for Philly, though?
They lose an elite perimeter defender and replace him with a negative defender, and is Russell the level of pick-and-roll, half-court shot-creator they need? Is what Russell brings on offense enough to offset what is lost on the other end of the court? Is he dramatically better than Tobias Harris as a shot creator?
Never say never, but this isn’t a trade Daryl Morey would seem to be pushing to get done. Also, factor in that Simmons agent — Rich Paul of Klutch Sports — will have a heavy hand in whatever deal gets done, and is Minnesota where he wants his client?
It’s a rumor that is out there, something worth watching, but there will be a lot of Simmons rumors this offseason.