Decision-makers in the City of Brotherly Love continue to feel the fire on their feet in the wake of Ben Simmons’ push to make his Philadelphia 76ers exit. The three-time All-Star has made it clear he’s willing to sit out training camp in hopes of forcing a deal but Sixers president Daryl Morey isn’t getting the offers he wants to make a move.
One team that has reportedly been jonesing for Simmons is the Minnesota Timberwolves. Alas, the word on the street continues to be that Minnesota remains among the gaggle of clubs trying to snag Simmons on pennies for the dollar.
During a recent episode of his podcast, The Scoop, Wolves insider Darren Wolfson reiterated that the team has drawn a line in the sand where a pair of its top stars are concerned. However, the door to a third star may have been left open a crack for Philly, should they choose to take that path.
Wolves Refusing to Part With KAT & Edwards
While discussing the Simmons situation with guest Brian Windhorst, Wolfson became the latest reporter to indicate that Wolves president Gersson Rosas has made All-Star big man Karl-Anthony Towns and fellow former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Edwards untouchable in trade talks.
“My understanding, Windy, is Gersson communicated with Daryl, maybe some others in the Philadelphia front office, ‘OK, KAT off the table. Anthony Edwards off the table, everybody else on the table,’” Wolfson said.
The “everybody else” part of that equation would seem to suggest that 2019 All-Star D’Angelo Russell may be obtainable. And, really, his inclusion in a trade for Simmons would make a lot of sense for Morey and Co. Convincing the Wolves to part with Russell, though, could prove to be a daunting task.
“Like, in the same breath, my understanding is D’Angelo Russell, Ben Simmons — they have a relationship. They played together in high school — that Gersson would love to have D’Angelo combined with Ben here.”
Given Morey’s high asking price, a Simmons-Russell pairing in Minnesota probably isn’t in the cards. On the other hand, Simmons’ value is lower than it has been in some time; a move for the Wolves’ scraps may not be the play but there’s nonetheless a chance that Philly will have to settle for a good offer instead of a great one.
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Russell Is an Imperfect Player But He Checks Boxes for Philly
It took him some time to get there but Russell has been a better-than-average floor general and a big-time scorer in recent years. He has even won over some of the analytics crowd that formerly loathed him by scoring more efficiently.
In 2020-21, Russell put up a cool 19.0 points, 5.8 assists and 1.1 steals per contest. He also connected on a career-best 38.7% of his 7.4 three-point attempts per game. As a result, his effective field goal percentage jumped to a career-high 52.3 last year.
Russell also continues to get to the line at a higher rate (nearly five attempts per 36 minutes) than he did in his early days, although he could still do more in that department.
Still just 25 years old, Russell could give Joel Embiid a long-term running mate who won’t shy away from taking the big shot as Simmons did during the Sixers’ playoff disappointment. There will be drop-off defensively but, given how the Sixers’ postseason run ended, that may be a trade-off they’re willing to make.
Still, Morey’s desire to rubber-stamp a Russell-centric deal and Rojas’ willingness to part with his guy are question marks.