The two-step process looks like an alley-oop pass and slam dunk. One minute a player faces intense criticism. In the next, he’s a prop.
That’s what’s happened to Ben Simmons, the blame target for the Philadelphia 76ers early exit from the NBA playoffs.
On Monday, talk-show hosts and New Jersey online sports bettors loudly wanted him gone.
By Tuesday, he had a trade market. It exists in Illinois, via PointsBet, and is not available in New Jersey yet.
However, the scenario triggers intriguing NJ sports betting conversation.
So if PointsBet gets clearance from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, the betting odds for potential trade destinations could look like this:
How the Ben Simmons situation got to this point
Looking back a the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals, it’s hard to argue with critics of Simmons’ failure to take a fourth-quarter shot in five of the seven games. And it’s hard to ignore the backlash from fans watching the Sixers squander a special season while he hit an astonishingly anemic 15-of-45 from the free-throw line (33%) in the series. This includes going a brutal 4-for-14 in the pivotal Game 5.
Or that he missed two free throws, which would have stunted the momentum of the Atlanta Hawks’ charge back from a 26-point deficit to win Game 5. That meltdown was on par with the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies, condensed into one basketball game.
Throw in the game-tying dunk he passed up with 3:29 left in Game 7, a non-shot so stark that Simmons’ teammate Joel Embiid called it the turning point of the contest.
A few more Ben Simmons free throws or any fourth-quarter presence would have seen him escorting the Sixers into the conference finals.
Instead, the 76ers odds of winning an NBA championship suffered a monumental collapse and Simmons absorbs the wrath.
To be fair, Sixers coach Doc Rivers also deserves blame for enacting an offense that protected leads with three-pointers from their tallest players. The shots not only missed, but removed offensive-rebound chances.
Rivers also is responsible for the Sixers’ lack of concentration. The Sixers blew leads of 18 and 26 points. They even dropped three games a the Wells Fargo Cener, including a Game 7. They were unfocused in the waning moments of Games 5 and 7.
He’s a player’s coach but not the type of figure to light a fire under the team. That’s gone under-reported.
But Ben Simmons is the prop, not Doc Rivers
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, summarized the logistics of a potential Simmons trade.
“The guys haven’t elected to put it up yet, but I guess we could offer it,” Avello told PlayNJ. “Ben Simmons certainly looks expendable to the Sixers and he didn’t get it done in the playoffs. If Embiid had Ben Simmons’ help, they probably win that series.
“So, when you look around and you do a little research, you can see how the Blazers make sense, the Wizards make sense and the Lakers certainly do,” he added, coincidentally naming some of the top projected targets for Simmons.
“The problem that teams face, however, is that they don’t want to just let a guy go if there is any chance you could get something good for him.”
Potential Ben Simmons trade scenarios
It’s amusing to read potential trade reports. Scenarios are contrived to fit the trading team and the player to be dealt is often over-valued
For instance, CJ McCollum of Portland is considered a potential straight-up deal. But this would require some packages and draft picks because of Simmons’ poor playoff round.
McCollum averaged 23 points per game compared to Simmons’ 14 for the regular season. Simmons had a couple more assists, seven, versus five for McCollum. McCollum would help Philadelphia’s outside shooting and Simmons would aid the porous Portland defense.
But is helping their defense the same as transforming it?
The Washington Wizards would fit, if the human triple-double, Russell Westbrook, wasn’t going to be 33 in November. Westbrook is the stylistic ingredient Philadelphia needs as the Sixers won’t win without a dominant perimeter player.
But how long can he be this good?
Is giving up nine years in a trade worth it to Philadelphia? Look at Westbrook and find a point guard several years younger, if that player is available.
There’s talk of DeMar DeRozan from the San Antonio Spurs. He averaged more points, 21, than Simmons. His assists were the same and his rebounds, four, are a little less than Simmons. Why do the Spurs need this deal?
The Lakers could be a match because Simmons is close with LeBron James and Laker players like Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Dennis Schroder could use a new start
But will the potential trade pieces fit?
That’s the big stylistic question for Philadelphia. Simmons is 6-foot-11, a listed shooting guard in a forward’s body.
Ben Simmons is a complementary player, not a star. What he’ll fetch in a trade: both teams gambling that a struggling player finds new life.
It’s been a tough year in many respects for Simmons.
The Australia native is getting heat for passing up playing for his national team at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Before that, he was considered expendable in the James Harden deal the Sixers reportedly offered at the beginning of the season.
If Simmons leaves, it might be a good change of scenery. It happens in all sports and just occurred here with Carson Wentz. The Philadelphia Eagles’ supposed QB of the future was benched for Jalen Hurts.
Now he’s an Indianapolis Colt. The trade is a refreshing reset for Wentz, who obtains an offense suited to his drop-back style.
And sometimes an organization emotionally cleans house. Former Eagles coach Doug Pederson inflamed critics by benching Hurts in the fourth quarter of their season-ending loss to the Washington Football Team. This was after Hurts had scored two rushing touchdowns. Pederson had looked targeted to gain one more year.
But this, in the eyes of many, looked egregious.
And egregious leads to that lightning-fast process: criticism and potential departure.
Will that mean Ben Simmons too?