Kings, Trail Blazers favored to land 76ers’ Ben Simmons in trade

Kings, Blazers top favorites to trade for 76ers’ Simmons originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

You can bet on almost anything in professional sports. If you’re so inclined, you can find a line on just about every possible situation, including where an NBA player might land via trade.

According to PointsBet.com, the Sacramento Kings and Portland Trail Blazers are the leaders in the Ben Simmons sweepstakes, if he’s traded. They both sit at +150 to land the Philadelphia 76ers All-Star, ahead of the +250 for the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors at +300.

With the news on Tuesday that Simmons and his team have made it clear to the Sixers that not only would he like a new home, but that he won’t show up for training camp in late September, the noise is only going to get louder.

In the second year of a five-year, $177 million contract extension, Simmons still has $146.6 million remaining on the deal, which isn’t something that every team can absorb.

Early in the offseason, the Kings made an offer centered around shooting guard Buddy Hield. If that alone would have gotten it done, then a trade would have already taken place.

To match salaries, the Kings can offer Hield ($23.1 million 2021-22 salary), along with either Marvin Bagley ($11.3 million 2021-22 salary) or Tristan Thompson ($9.7 million 2021-22 salary). But that’s just the start.

The Kings don’t have an All-Star level player to hand over and the few players that either have the potential or are close to that level are the core the team is trying to build around, not give away at the beginning of the Kings’ version of «The Process.» 

In a straight two team trade, the Kings are going to have to sweeten the deal. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Davion Mitchell are all likely untouchable. And that could be the end of the conversation or the beginning depending on how much draft capital the Kings will have to include.

Kings general manager Monte McNair has the luxury of having all of his first round picks moving forward, as well as a few extra second round picks in the next few drafts. He can also include things like pick swaps. 

RELATED: With Simmons wanting out, can Kings make competitive offer?

As a team that’s danced in the lottery for the last decade and a half, the Kings’ draft picks are extremely valuable on the open market. It’s not like getting three future selections from the Brooklyn Nets or Los Angeles Lakers. These are pieces that can be used as trade chips moving forward, even if Sacramento takes a leap in the standings.

Due to the NBA’s Stepien Rule, teams aren’t allowed to trade their picks in consecutive drafts and they can only trade picks over the next seven drafts. That means that Sacramento could offer up to three first round picks in a trade, but in alternating years, like 2022, 2024, 2026. Second round selections do not have the same restrictions.

McNair has to balance making a competitive offer without bidding against himself. That might be the most difficult component to this transaction. 

Is two firsts and a pick swap enough? Is that too much? 

There is no recipe to follow when constructing an offer, but when you’ve missed the playoffs for 15 consecutive seasons and there is a 25-year-old three-time All-Star sitting out there that could potentially reshape your entire franchise, then you have to be aggressive if you are McNair.

Simmons could be a game changer in Sacramento. He needs a fresh start and maybe a little NBA anonymity to rebuild his confidence. In the right trade, he could be the piece that puts the Kings back in the playoff conversation and for that, he would be embraced and revered by a loyal fanbase.