According to a recent list of trade ideas, the Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns could both potentially improve their fortunes in a deal that would involve their respective superstar guards — Ben Simmons and Devin Booker.
On Tuesday, Bleacher Report‘s Zach Buckley took a look at the current situations of both teams involved in the hypothetical transaction, noting that the Suns are starting to live up to their potential as a young team while the Sixers “might have doubts” regarding whether they could make a strong push for a championship with Simmons as their lead playmaker.
In the suggested trade, Philadelphia would receive the backcourt duo of Booker and Ricky Rubio while Phoenix would end up with Simmons, guard/forward Josh Richardson, and journeyman forward Mike Scott. Explaining why he believes the move could work for the Sixers, Buckley wrote that Booker has the potential to be a “dynamic” shot-creator alongside center Joel Embiid, while Rubio’s skills as a playmaker and defender could make up a bit for the loss of Simmons.
“The symbiotic balance of Booker’s perimeter game with Embiid’s low-post proficiency is enough to spark bouts of insomnia in opposing coaches. A step down the scoring ladder could boost Tobias Harris’ efficiency, and Al Horford might find new life playing the two-man game with Rubio.”
Should the proposed deal push forward, Simmons could make Phoenix’s deadly transition offense “even more potent” while also using his ability on the other end of the floor to improve the team’s 17th-ranked defense, as further explained by Buckley. He also mentioned the possibility that Simmons and Richardson could join forces with fellow wingmen Kelly Oubre Jr., Mikal Bridges, and Cameron Johnson to give the organization a versatile, “uber-switchable” supporting cast around second-year big man Deandre Ayton.
While Simmons’ season appears to have ended with a knee injury he suffered during the NBA season restart, the 24-year-old produced big numbers for Philadelphia in his third year in the league. According to Basketball-Reference, the two-time All-Star averaged 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, eight assists, and 2.1 steals and shot 58 percent from the field in 2019-20.
Booker, meanwhile, is averaging 26.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.5 assists and shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from beyond the arc this season, per his Basketball-Reference page.
Apart from the Suns, the Cleveland Cavaliers have also been mentioned as of late as a team that could swing a deal for Simmons, with one recent trade idea suggesting that the Cavs could acquire the Australian star for a package that includes point guard Darius Garland and multiple future first-round draft picks.