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New Orleans Pelicans interested in Ben Simmons, how it might work

Vincent Frank

The New Orleans Pelicans find themselves as a downtrodden organization in the midst of more drama surrounding injured star forward Zion Williamson.

Does that mean front office head David Griffin will sit idly by at the NBA trade deadline and not do anything? Based on his history, that’s highly unlikely to be the case.

According to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype, New Orleans has had discussions about pulling off a trade for Philadelphia 76ers star point guard Ben Simmons.

“I heard the Pelicans discussed trading future first-round picks and pick swaps with the 76ers for Ben Simmons,” Scotto reported. “Brandon Ingram was not involved in the talks, I’m told, at least as of now. With Zion Williamson’s latest injury setback, it’s unclear how that could move the needle for the Pelicans in their efforts to land Simmons.”

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Can the New Orleans Pelicans pull off a Ben Simmons trade?

Ben Simmons  trade to the New orleans pelicans
Jun 14, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) warms up before game four in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs against the Atlanta Hawks. at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Short of offering up Brandon Ingram and other assets, that’s unlikely to happen. Scotto points to New Orleans looking to give up future first-round picks and pick swaps in exchange for Simmons. Given Philadelphia’s asking price for the embattled point guard, these talks will go nowhere.

New Orleans does have future first-round picks from the Los Angeles Lakers (Anthony Davis trade) and Milwaukee Bucks (Jrue Holiday) trade. That gives the team natural assets to pull off a trade to team up with Zion Williamson — whenever he returns from his current foot injury.

As you already know, Simmons remains away from the 76ers after requesting a trade this past off-season. Right now, he’s not in a mental space to return to the court. Meanwhile, trade talks surrouding the three-time All-Star have heated up with the Lakers and Knicks being bandied about as most-recent additions to the list of interested teams.

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Ben Simmons as a fit for the New Orleans Pelicans

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans
Apr 9, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) drives past New Orleans Pelicans forwards Zion Williamson (1) and James Johnson (16) in the second quarter at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Among the many foolish decisions New Orleans has made in recent years, it decided to let Lonzo Ball walk in free agency rather than match any offer for the then-restricted free agent. In his stead, the Pelicans traded for Devonte’ Graham. He has not panned out at point guard (37% shooting, 13.2 points per game).

Obviously, point guard remains a need in New Orleans. The question becomes whether the Pelicans view Simmons and his inability to shoot from perimeter in that regard. Some interested teams see him more as a point forward in the same vein as Draymond Green.

Regardless, getting talent to appease Williamson has to be seen as the primary goal for these Pelicans. Simmons would add that two-way ability.

How would a Ben Simmons trade to the New Orleans Pelicans look?

Short of getting another squad to take on the contracts of Jonas Valanciunas, Josh Hart and Devonte’ Graham while offering up multiple first-round picks to help facilitate a three-team trade, Ingram would have to be involved. That’s not even in question at thi point.

Something akin to Ingram, Tomas Satoransky and draft pick compensation to Philadelphia for Simmons and Shake Milton might work.