Boston Celtics Rumors: Ben Simmons is a good fit, but deal has to be right

Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Boston Celtics season has not gotten off to a great start. Despite picking up a couple of solid victories over the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on their recent three game road trip, Boston’s record sits at 4-6, which simply isn’t good enough. A team led by a pair of young stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should be winning more games than they are losing.

Fans are obviously not going to be content with a losing team considering the amount of talent on this roster, and apparently the front office isn’t content either (as they should be). New President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens has shown early on in his tenure that he isn’t afraid to make moves, and according to some new reports this morning, he’s already looking to make some upgrades to this team.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported this morning that the Celtics have engaged the Philadelphia 76ers in trade talks for their embattled guard Ben Simmons. Simmons requested a trade this past offseason that the 76ers have yet to grant him, and he has basically refused to take the court this season for Philadelphia.

The problem with this is that the 76ers have said any deal for Simmons would have to involve Brown, which just isn’t a beneficial deal for Boston. Even when he is playing, Simmons is not as good as Brown, seemingly making a potential deal tough to reach. Trading for Simmons would certainly help the Boston Celtics, but the deal has to be made at the right price, and involving Brown in a deal is not that price.

The Boston Celtics should pursue Simmons, but they cannot overpay for him

Just a couple weeks ago, I outlined how Simmons would be a perfect fit in Boston’s offense, and believed the team should look into making a deal for the 6’11 guard. He’s a unicorn of sorts in the NBA in that he can bring the ball up for an offense despite being nearly seven feet tall. When he’s playing to his potential, Simmons is a skilled finisher at the rim, can distribute the ball for his teammates, and play lockdown defense on any player on the court.

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The problem is, Simmons hasn’t always shown those capabilities during his time with Philadelphia. Simmons’ commitment has seemed to wane during his time in Philly, and he was basically unplayable during their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks last season. It seemed like a good time for both the player and team to part ways, and it made sense when Simmons requested a trade this past offseason.

However, the 76ers have said they are intent on getting fair value for Simmons, which has made finding a deal for them virtually impossible. Nobody is denying Simmons’ talent, but there isn’t a chance that the Boston Celtics are going to give up Brown, arguably Boston’s best player so far this season, in return for a guy who yet to take the court this season.

Unless 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey and the rest of Philadelphia’s front office comes to their senses at some point, a deal likely won’t be made. Simmons would be a good fit in Boston’s team, but there’s no sense unloading one of the key pieces of the team’s core in return for a guy who may not even end up playing. A more realistic centerpiece for a deal would be fan favorite Marcus Smart.

Admittedly, I have my qualms about Smart, and they certainly didn’t go away after his horrid fourth quarter performance against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. But Smart actually fits Philadelphia’s system better than the Boston Celtics’, and a package built around Smart would make sense when acquiring a player like Simmons.

With Simmons out, Philadelphia doesn’t really have many true ball handlers on their team. They have been using guys like Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey, but Milton is more of a shooting guard, and Maxey probably should be coming off the bench. Smart isn’t the best point guard in the world, but he has more experience than either of those guys running an offense, which is something that should appeal to the 76ers.

And while Smart isn’t necessarily a knockdown three point shooter, he provides spacing to let the 76ers’ stars in Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris go to work. Smart is effective running the pick and roll, and pairing him up with Embiid in those scenarios could become very dangerous.

Admittedly, Smart for Simmons straight up is not a fair deal. Tack on a young prospect who has shown potential (Grant Williams, Aaron Nesmith, Romeo Langford), maybe even another veteran (Josh Richardson), and a first round pick or two, and you have a trade package that should be enough to land a guy like Simmons. Clearly the 76ers front office doesn’t agree, but they are operating on a different mindset than the rest of the league right now.

Adding Simmons would change the tenor of both Boston’s offense and defense. Offensively, he is what the team is trying to make Smart become. Smart has shown early on this season he cannot be the guy tasked with taking charge of the offense. The hope was giving Smart more responsibility as a passer would decrease the amount of boneheaded plays he makes on a nightly basis, but so far it has only increased those plays.

Defensively, Simmons is a perfect fit for the defense rookie head coach Ime Udoka is looking to implement in Boston. The Celtics switch on pretty much everything nowadays, which occasionally sets up favorable matchups for the opposing team. Against the Mavericks in the fourth quarter, Dennis Schroder pretty consistently found himself in the post against Luka Doncic. Doncic is going to win that battle 10 times out of 10.

With Simmons in tow, that doesn’t happen. The Mavericks wouldn’t try to get Doncic on Simmons because Simmons is one of the best defenders in the league, regardless of who he’s guarding. You can even ignore the offensive contributions if you want, but if the Boston Celtics had Simmons on the court in that situation alone, they would have won that game.

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Yet until the 76ers lower their price, there is no sense engaging in pointless trade talks. Brown for Simmons straight up is not a deal any team in the league would make, and it seems almost like a joke that that’s what the 76ers front office thinks they can get for a guy who hasn’t played a minute of basketball this season.

Simmons would be an ideal addition for this team, but giving up Brown in any deal is absurd, and unless common ground can be met somewhere else, it looks like upgrades will need to be made to this team in other ways.