76ers are looking for a ‘Hardenesque’ package for Ben Simmons

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly open to trading Ben Simmons. But their asking price is sky high, bordering on the absurd.

If you thought the 76ers’ sounded delusional asking for Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby and the No. 4 pick from the Raptors in exchange for Ben Simmons, wait until you get a load of this. According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Daryl Morey asked for four first-round picks, three pick swaps and a young player for Simmons in negotiations with the San Antonio Spurs.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on The Jump yesterday that the 76ers’ were seeking a “Hardenesque” return for Ben Simmons and boy, he wasn’t kidding.

Can the Philadelphia 76ers really get four first-round draft picks for Ben Simmons?

Figuring out Simmons’ value in future draft picks is a murky process, as I explored earlier this week. Simmons’ present level of production would be a strong return on a No. 1 pick and, in a vacuum, his present and future value are almost certainly equal to the generic value of multiple first-round picks (although maybe not four of them).

The problem is that teams are trading for a general level of production, they’re trading for Ben Simmons specifically. He’s an elite and versatile defender and a special passer and creator who also doesn’t shoot outside the paint and seemed afraid to even shoot in the paint in the biggest moments of Philadelphia’s playoff run. He could absolutely make almost any team in the NBA better and certainly lift a mid-tier team towards better playoff position. The question is whether he actually raise a team’s playoff ceiling given his very specific and highly identifiable shortcomings.

There’s also the matter of leverage. The 76ers have said they’re willing to hold onto him but every team saw how last season ended for Philadelphia and knows that they would probably prefer to move on. And keeping Simmons runs the risk of more problems and his value getting depressed even further. All that is to say, Simmons is a valuable asset but the 76ers probably aren’t getting four first-round picks from anyone for him.