Over the last two weeks, one topic has engulfed the NBA offseason like no other: the status of star guard Ben Simmons, who remains estranged from the Sixers and has, according to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, determined to “never” play for Philadelphia.
Of course, whenever a star looks to be heading to the trade block in search of greener pastures—especially one represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports (the agency of LeBron James and Anthony Davis) the Lakers are the first team to come up. And according to beat writer Dan Woike of the L.A. Times, there is a Lakers angle to all this.
That comes despite the very remote chance that Simmons would somehow be traded to the purple-and-gold.
“The Clippers and Lakers should be very interested in this situation even if the likelihood of either team acquiring Simmons is lower than his three-point percentage,” Woike noted as part of the Times’ roundtable on the subject.
But the Simmons saga could have a direct impact on the Lakers nonetheless. That’s because of the chances that one of the Lakers’ top rivals for the Western Conference crown could insert itself into the Simmons drama: the Warriors.
Warriors Could Threaten Lakers With Simmons Trade
Golden State has two rookies chosen with Top 10 picks this year, Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody. They also have last year’s No. 2 pick, James Wiseman, and a sizable contract (that of Andrew Wiggins) to match salaries with the Sixers. A package based around some combination of Golden State’s young guys and Wiggins could be the best offer the Sixers get for Simmons.
That could leave the Warriors with another version of a superteam. Said Woike:
There’s one team in the West that could instantly become one of the conference’s favorites by dealing for him — the Golden State Warriors. While Portland could be a landing spot, the most seismic shift in the West would be if Simmons ends up in the Bay with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. They certainly could live without his offense, and Simmons’ elite defense alongside that kind of talent — and Green’s mastery on that side of the ball — would have Golden State instantly at the top of any West rankings alongside the Lakers.
It should be noted, however, that there was talk about the Warriors and Sixers making a swap for Simmons around the NBA draft in July, but the Warriors were said to have nixed the idea. This week, Warriors owner Joe Lacob commented that Simmons, “doesn’t really fit what we’re doing. He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don’t know.”
Lacob was fined by the NBA for those comments, which the league considered tampering.
How Would Lakers, Warriors Match Up After Simmons Deal?
Still, a Warriors-Sixers deal that lands Simmons alongside high-scoring guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson would set up a fascinating clash of star power between the Lakers and Warriors, reviving the showdown between Curry and James that played out in four straight NBA Finals when James in Cleveland, from 2015-18.
While the Lakers’ Big 3 of Russell Westbrook, Davis and James figures to be a fast-breaking offensive force, the Warriors would have three defenders—Thompson (on Westbrook), Simmons (on James) and Draymond Green (on Davis)—who could match up well with the Lakers stars. The Warriors could create real problems in matchups with the Lakers.
L.A. would have a big depth advantage. Where the Lakers could bring players like Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Talen Horton-Tucker, Kendrick Nunn, Malik Monk and Trevor Ariza off the bench, the Warriors’ bench dries up after the likes of Otto Porter, Andre Iguodala and Jordan Poole. Advantage, Lakers. Big time.
But if Lacob was being sincere, then the Warriors won’t seize on the opportunity. That might be bad for NBA fans wanting to see a clash of Western Conference titans, but it would be a good thing for the Lakers.