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Philadelphia 76ers’ top offseason goal remains Damian Lillard

It’s somewhat surprising that the Philadelphia 76ers have been among the least-active teams during NBA free agency.

For weeks, rumors have suggested that point guard Ben Simmons could be on the move. We also know that 76ers front office head Daryl Morey is always going star hunting. This led to previous rumors about a potential Damian Lillard blockbuster trade.

Instead, Philadelphia’s biggest move during the first week of free agency included bringing in Andre Drummond to replace Dwight Howard as Joel Embiid’s top backup. That’s unlikely going to be it for Philadelphia after premature second round exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

According to Derek Bodner of The Athletic, Philadelphia continues to have its eyes set on a blockbuster trade for Lillard.

“Since the Sixers’ season ended the team has similarly kept a watchful eye on the status of Lillard in Portland,” Bodner reported. “From the Sixers’ perspective, it would be fair to say the goal is less to trade Ben Simmons and more to acquire Damian Lillard.”

Fresh off helping lead Team USA to Olympic gold in Japan, Lillard will now likely turn his attention stateside. Rumors earlier this summer indicated that the All-Star shooting guard might request a trade. While Lillard has since denied those rumors, he’s also made it clear that the status quo is not working. Portland’s idea of upgrading in free agency was to bring in the likes of Tony Snell and Cody Zeller. That’s not going to move the needle.

When rumors of Lillard’s discontent became public record, the Philadelphia 76ers joined the New York Knicks, Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors as top-end contenders for his services. Based on what we’ve seen this summer, Philadelphia joins Golden State in being able to offer the most to Portland out of that group should Lillard request a trade.

Damian Lillard to the Philadelphia 76ers trade scenarios

Damian Lillard trade, Philadelphia 76ers
Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Of course, this is all premature. Lillard has yet to request a trade. There’s a darn good chance that he gives Portland one more season to prove that the team can be relevant after four first-round playoff exits over the past five seasons.

Then again, the always-loyal guard might simply be fed up with the direction of the organization under embattled general manager Neil Olshey. That’s where Morey and Co. might be able to swoop in.

There’s certainly a lot of complexities when it comes to a potential Lillard trade to the Philadelphia 76ers. First off, it’s not yet known whether Philadelphia would accept the 25-year-old Simmons as the centerpiece in any hypothetical trade.

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If not, Tobias Harris would likely head to Portland as a financial component. From there, a number of young players and draft assets would have to head back to the Pacific Northwest. That includes a combination of Tyrese Maxey, Shake Milton, Matisse Thybulle, Jaden Springer and Furkan Korkmaz. From there, multiple first-round picks and pick swaps would have to be in the cards.

However, the easiest scenario would be for Philadelphia to send Simmons, Maxey and Milton as well as the draft compensation mentioned above to Portland for Simmons. Whether another team could best that offer remains to be seen. What we do know is that Golden State also has a ton of assets to offer up should it consider bringing Dame back home. The six-time All-Star is an Oakland product and grew up a Warriors fan.