The Sacramento Kings have always made the most sense to acquire Ben Simmons in a trade. The Western Conference doormats are in rebuild mode, plus they have a ton of promising young players to package up in a deal. Or to entice a third team to get involved in a blockbuster.
Tyrese Haliburton and De’Aaron Fox are the two names you’ll be hearing from now until February 10. They are first-round talents – Fox went No. 5 overall in 2017; Haliburton went No. 12 in 2020 – who were once thought to be untouchable. Not anymore. The Athletic’s Sam Amick reported that the Kings are open to trading them. The front office has “the green light to do whatever is necessary” to improve the roster.

And Sacramento is definitely interested in Simmons. Amick wrote:

And while the Kings would prefer to keep building around De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, their strong appetite to improve means that no player is off the table in terms of potential talks.

Wherever there’s an impact player who can be had, in other words, they’ll be exploring the possibilities. And yes, as you likely wondered, that includes Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons.

While I reported in early September that a Kings-Simmons deal was looking very unlikely, that was long before team officials had a chance to see nearly half a season’s worth of (mostly subpar) play. Sacramento’s interest is definitely there.

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Haliburton Makes More Sense Than Fox

Haliburton appears to be the better, younger option for Philly. Fox is the bigger name thanks to his Kentucky days, but he would be a questionable fit next to Joel Embiid. He’s a terrible three-point shooter: 25.2% this season, 31.6% for his five-year NBA career. And his offensive numbers have fallen off dramatically this year.

Not only that, Fox is a disaster on defense and the Sixers are going to need to replace Simmons’ energy on that end. He really wouldn’t be too much of an improvement over Tyrese Maxey at the point guard spot. You could argue Maxey is superior due to his burgeoning three-point shot, although Fox is a more natural passer. Both players excel at attacking the rim.

Meanwhile, Haliburton is turning into a star right before our eyes. His per-game numbers speak for themselves: 13.3 points, 6.9 assists, 42.4% from three-point land, 1.6 steals, 3.9 rebounds – all up significantly from his 2020-21 rookie campaign. And the 21-year-old is a true point guard, a guy who can set the table – 11 games with double-digit assists – and a floor spacer because of his lights-out jumper.

Of course, there is the possibility of the Sixers asking for both Fox and Haliburton in a trade. The only negative in that scenario is what would happen to Maxey? It could stunt his growth or make him the odd man out. That wouldn’t be fair. Maxey has shown he can be a starter.

Sixers May Decide to Keep Simmons

Don’t count out Simmons remaining on the Sixers’ roster after the trade deadline passes. Philly president Daryl Morey has made it clear he wants a blue-chipper in return like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. While those players are unavailable, the landscape can change quickly as teams start to drop out of the postseason race.

Neither Fox nor Haliburton are All-Stars. Maybe one day, but not now. The Sixers are in win-now mode with Embiid’s window closing. They cannot afford to trade for developmental players – unless, of course, there is no other market for Simmons which looks to be the case.