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Ben Simmons trade to the Charlotte Hornets: 3 ways it could work

We’re going to hear a whole heck of a lot about a potential Ben Simmons trade between now and the February 10 NBA trade deadline. The three-time All-Star has remained away from the team through the first 46 games of the season after requesting a trade last summer.

Recently, a report from Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic notes that Philadelphia is willing to keep him past the deadline with James Harden of the Brooklyn Nets being a potential target this summer in a sign-and-trade.

Thus goes the Simmons drama. However, the same report indicates that surprising Charlotte Hornets have joined the fray. It’s not a surprise given Charlotte’s status as a playoff contender back east and the way it has struggled on the defensive end of the court.

Whether it’s next month or during the summer, there’s multiple ways Michael Jordan and Co. could land Simmons in a blockbuster trade. Below, we look at three secenarios.

Related: Sportsnaut’s updated NBA trade rumors ahead of February 10 deadline

Ben Simmons trade to the Charlotte Hornets for Miles Bridges

ben simmons, charlotte hornets trade scenarios
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
  • Charlotte Hornets get: Ben Simmons
  • Philadelphia 76ers get: Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, Ish Smith, two first-round picks

Boasting a 26-21 record this season and having won seven of their past nine, the Hornets think their window at contention is wide open. The one issue here is defense. Charlotte ranks 28th in points allowed (114.2) and 25th in defensive rating (112.5). As legitimately one of the best defensive players in the game, Simmons would change this in a big way.

The question for Charlotte is whether its offense and perimeter game would be impacted too much by adding Simmons to the mix and losing out on a 20-point scorer in Bridges. We’re just not seeing it. The Hornets currently have four players averaging north of 16 points per game, including LaMelo Ball (19.0) and Gordon Hayward (17.0). They’d more than be able to make up for that.

From Philadelphia’s perspective, it’s less complex. This would represent a dramatic upgrade on the offensive end of the court to go with MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Rozier would slot in as the starting point guard (18.5 PPG, 4.0 APG) with Bridges taking over at the wing. A move of this ilk would also include Tobias Harris moving to the more traditional four spot. Realistically, a starting five of Rozier, Tyrese Maxey, Bridges, Harris and Embiid would be elite.

Related: Updated NBA Playoff and championship predictions

Ben Simmons to the Charlotte Hornets in three-team trade

ben simmons trade scenarios, charlotte hornets
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
  • Charlotte Hornets: Ben Simmons, Jaxson Hayes
  • Philadelphia 76ers get: Brandon Ingram, Devonte’ Graham, Josh Hart, Mason Plumlee, first-round pick (from CHA)
  • New Orleans Pelicans get: Miles Bridges, Terry Rozier, Tobias Harris

Pretty much any deal sending Simmons to Charlotte would likely have to get a third team involved. 76ers front office head Daryl Morey is still honing in on star power. Neither Rozier or Bridges bring that to the mix. Instead, Brandon Ingram could offer that up to Philadelphia. He’s been a tremendous two-way wing since joining New Orleans in the Anthony Davis trade ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Just imagine that type of scoring ability with Embiid in the frontcourt. Add in the presence of Tyrese Maxey and his expanded game (16.7 PPG in 2021-22), and that’s a great core right there. Philadelphia also adds three rotational pieces in Graham, Hart and Plumlee as well as a future first-round pick.

The question now becomes why New Orleans would do this? It’s rather simple. With Zion Williamson sidelined, the status quo is not working in Nola. Breaking it up with some potential core pieces moving forward makes sense. Bridges and Rozier would be immediate contributors with a future in New Orleans. As for Harris, the Pelicans could use his contract as a financial asset to pull off another summer-time trade.

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Charlotte Hornets land Ben Simmons during the summer

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Portland Trail Blazers
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
  • Charlotte Hornets get: Ben Simmons, Robert Covington
  • Philadelphia 76ers get: Damian Lillard, Mason Plumlee
  • Portland Trail Blazers get: Miles Bridges, Tyrese Maxey, Terry Rozier, Kelly Oubre, two first-round picks

As noted in the report above, Philadelphia might now be leaning to waiting until the summer to pull off a Simmons blockbuster trade. With just a few weeks to go before the NBA trade deadline, that might be the likeliest scenario right now. It opens up new doors for the 76ers, potentially James Harden and Damian Lillard included.

Rather than going with the obvious in Harden, why not look at Dame heading to the City of Brotherly Love? He’d be a better fit with Joel Embiid as a point guard with unlimited range. That type of inside-out ability is a rarity, even in today’s perimeter-based NBA game.

Philadelphia does pay the piper here, sending Simmons to Charlotte and Maxey to the Pacific Northwest in the blockbuster three-team trade. It’s a whole lot to pay. It might also entice a struggling Blazers squad just enough to help expedite the team’s rebuild. In reality, adding Bridges and Maxey as well as two first-round picks would be a coup. With Lillard currently sidelined to injury, waiting until the summer is the only way a trade of this ilk would work.

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