Could San Antonio be the best destination for disgruntled 76ers star Ben Simmons?

According to NBA insider Marc Stein, “Simmons would appreciate the opportunity to play for [Gregg] Popovich if the Spurs found a way to acquire it. “

Almost two months into the 2023-22 NBA season, there is no sign that the showdown between Simmons and the 76ers organization is going to end anytime soon. Simmons remains determined not to adjust to the franchise, while Sixers president Daryl Morey patiently awaits the perfect return for the three-time All-Star.

Is a deal with the Spurs the best option for all parties involved? Let’s dive into what this might look like.

Could the Spurs trade for Ben Simmons?

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It is a two-part answer.

Who could the Spurs trade for Ben Simmons?

According to a report by Sam Amick of The Athletic, there are “roughly 30 players” the 76ers would target in a possible deal for Simmons, so the first part of the answer is whether or not the Spurs have one of the 30. players that the Sixers have on their radar.

MORE: Who are the 30 players? A possible list of Simmons business goals

When looking at the San Antonio roster, fifth-year point guard Dejounte Murray is the most likely candidate to be one of Philadelphia’s 30 target players in the league. Murray, 25, is a perennial All-Defensive Team candidate and has averaged 18.9 points, 8.5 assists and 8.4 rebounds for the Spurs this season.

As good a season as Murray has, he has yet to cross the All-Star threshold like Simmons has. And while Murray is a perennial candidate for the All-Defensive Team selection, Simmons was a finalist for Defensive Player of the Year just a season ago.

Those differences alone could cause the Spurs to seek an upgrade to speed up rebuilding, while Murray’s reputation and numbers would be far from “settling” with the Sixers.

Can the Spurs match salaries in a Ben Simmons trade?

Of course, the other part of the answer is making money work.

Simmons, who is in the second year of a five-year, $ 177.2 million contract, is making about $ 33 million this season, according to Spotrac. Murray, who makes $ 15.4 million this season is the Spurs’ highest paid player this season, with Derrick White ($ 15.1 million), Thaddeus Young ($ 14.2 million) and Doug McDermott ($ 13.8 million) as the other four players in earn more than $ 10 million this year.

To strike a deal, Young’s expiring deal is the most sensible to include unless San Antonio wants to get out of a longer deal like the three-year, $ 41 deal McDermott signed in the offseason.

Selected 12th overall by the Sixers in 2007, things would come full circle for the 14-year veteran. Because Young has an expiring contract, he cannot be included in any trade until December 15.

It’s also worth noting that the Sixers don’t have any open spots on the roster. Philadelphia would have to give up a player to win back more players in exchange for Simmons or get a third team involved, which would complicate matters.

Why Ben Simmons Would Thrive With Gregg Popovich

This is the fun part.

Simmons’ willingness to play for Popovich makes sense given his position as one of the best coaches to ever grace an NBA sideline. Popovich, along with his coaching staff, could certainly bring out the best in Simmons, potentially pushing him to an MVP level even.

His reminder that while the last time Simmons was on an NBA court ended on a sour note, it doesn’t take away from his potential as a 6-foot-10 player who does it all with an elite court vision, skill. defensive and untapped offense. potential due to his athleticism.

That’s the type of player the Spurs can make the most of and the proof is in the results. Three specific examples come to mind:

Kawhi leonard

Selected just out of the lottery, San Antonio gestured to acquire Leonard on draft night in 2011. In seven seasons with the franchise, Leonard went from defensive specialist to two-time Defensive Player of the Year, to becoming a two-way ace and MVP. candidate in its final form.

It’s hard to imagine anyone would have expected Leonard to be the type of player capable of averaging nearly 26 points per game, but that’s exactly what he did in his last full season as Spur. Assistant coach Chip Engelland, also known as “The Shooting Doctor,” played an important role in Leonard’s transformation, something he could also do with Simmons.

Could Engelland turn Simmons into a 50-40-90 man? Probably not. But a new scenario and a different approach could unlock Simmons in a different way offensively,

DeMar DeRozan

DeRozan was already an All-Star and a nine-year veteran when he came to San Antonio, so there was no way he could add something else to his game, right? Incorrect.

A full purchase of DeRozan allowed him to make significant strides as a playmaker, averaging 6.2 assists per game during his three seasons with the Spurs, including a career-high 6.9 dimes per game in his final season.

Making plays isn’t Simmons’ weakness at all, but DeRozan’s example is a reminder that under Popovich, it’s never too late to add a new dynamic to your game.

Tony parker

A late first-round pick, Parker wasn’t necessarily expected to be a star when he came to the league, at least not at the heights he reached.

Under the tutelage of Popovich and his coaching staff, Parker became a six-time All-Star and, in 2007, was named the NBA Finals MVP. Credit to Parker for buying and working on his game, but Popovich also set the plan and put him in positions to succeed.

If a trade could be executed to get Simmons to San Antonio, he could reach another level of stardom.