Report: Lillard wants to play with Simmons; Blazers, 76ers discussed deals
The Portland Trail Blazers and Philadelphia 76ers discussed blockbuster trade packages during now-former general manager Neil Olshey's tenure with Portland that would have achieved Damian Lillard's desired goal of playing alongside Ben Simmons, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania and Sam Amick.
The two teams reportedly discussed a package for Simmons that included guard CJ McCollum, a first-round pick, and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons; Philadelphia apparently offered Simmons for McCollum and multiple first-round picks and pick swaps - a proposal the Trail Blazers rejected.
Portland fired Olshey on Friday following a monthlong investigation into workplace misconduct allegations, ending nearly a decade of leadership that produced the NBA's longest active playoff streak (eight seasons).
Simmons, a three-time All-Star and last year's Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, has not played this season. The 25-year-old informed the 76ers of his desire to leave via trade during a meeting with team leadership this summer.
At his best, Simmons is a foundational defender and elite playmaker in transition. But he's struggled as the primary ball-handler in half-court sets - a role in which Lillard, 31, has thrived throughout his career en route to earning a spot on the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team earlier this autumn.
The Trail Blazers sit 10th in the Western Conference at 11-13 (.458) and are closer to the cellar-dwelling New Orleans Pelicans (7-19) than the third-seeded Utah Jazz (16-7). Portland's offense - the fifth-best in the league - has been completely undercut by a defense that ranks dead last, resulting in a 24th-ranked net rating of minus-2.6 points per 100 possessions.
The ailing 76ers, meanwhile, are 12-11 (.522) and sit ninth in the Eastern Conference, but they're just 1.5 games back of the fourth-seeded Miami Heat.