Ben Simmons' Next Team? Odds Say Portland, Houston, or Minnesota

Ben Simmons once again found himself highlighting the NBA news cycle. Per Woj of ESPN, Simmons is not going to report to training camp next week “and intends to never play another game for the franchise.”

In one sense, this isn’t that new in the NBA these days. We see superstar players basically handpick which team they want to go to, even when they are under contract. But what makes this situation vastly different than Anthony Davis (Pelicans —> Lakers), James Harden (Rockets —> Nets), etc. is that Simmons still has four years left on his contract! And if that wasn’t enough to knock his leverage down a notch or two, do we need to break out the film of his horrendous playoffs from only a few months ago? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

What Simmons does have working in his favor though is a Philly team that is absolutely in win now mode. They aren’t in the position to trade away one of their best assets for a bunch of future lottery picks because that makes the current version of their team absolutely worse. And they have this guy named Joel Embiid basically in the prime of his career right now…like I said, win now.

While I suppose there is always the chance that Simmons could recant, it does seem like the situation is beyond repair and he has played his last game as a Sixer. If that is indeed the case, then Daryl Morey certainly has his work cut out for him when it comes to making a trade.

Who are some of the teams in the mix to land Simmons? And what would that mean for those teams (and for Philly) if they are able to get him? Well, let’s take a look!

Odds to Land Simmons

It is truly remarkable that, in this day and age of sports gambling, we can actually make a bet on who will be Simmons’ next team with the click of a button. And while these odds are only available in Colorado, it does give us a sense of what the market expects when it comes to his trade suitors. Here are the five teams with the shortest odds, followed by the rest of the field, as of Thursday, September 23rd at PointsBet:

Blazers -111

Rockets +275

Timberwolves +275

Warriors +700

Kings +900

Spurs +1200

Lakers +1400

Cavs +1600

Thunder +2000

Bulls +2500

Raptors +2500

Hornets +3000

Pacers +3300

Clippers +3300

Knicks +4000

Wizards +4000

Pistons +5000

Pelicans +5000

Portland Trail Blazers

A Simmons for Damian Lillard swap has been the most talked about trade, as it probably makes the most sense for both teams. Don’t even get me started on how much I want to see Damian Lillard next to Joel Embiid. While it would of course be a downgrade on defense, seeing Dame and Embiid in a two-man game offensively would be basketball {insert word I don’t think I’m allowed to type on a work computer}.

Assuming Dame ultimately wants out of Portland (which doesn’t appear to be as certain as it was earlier in the summer), it would make sense for Portland to acquire someone like Simmons and basically reset their clock a little bit. They would clearly start a rebuild process—built around Simmons—and tailor the roster to accentuate his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.

While the odds say that this will be the most likely scenario—again, it does make the most sense—I don’t think it is anywhere near a slam dunk to happen. Sure, if you’re Daryl Morey, you are going to do all you can to make this happen. But the hesitation is going to come from the Portland side, as I don’t think they are in any sort of rush to start over. Dame still has three years left on his deal (a player option for the fourth year), and we all know by now how engrained he is in that community and how highly the organization thinks of him.

The only way I see Portland dealing Dame any time soon is if he puts his foot down and unequivocally demands a trade. But it’s not like Philly is the only theoretical option Dame would be looking at. Don’t forget about the Knicks, who have long been linked to trying to get Lillard. And due to some cap technicalities, a handful of the players that the Knicks got this offseason aren’t eligible to be traded until later this season (either December or February, I can’t recall which). One would think that the Philly situation would be resolved by then.

So yeah, plenty of moving parts here that make a Simmons/Lillard swap no sure thing. That being said, it is absolutely the one I most want to see!

Houston Rockets

I am not really going to dive too deep into this one because I just don’t see it as that likely to happen. Yes, the Rockets are in full-on tank mode still and have plenty of draft picks they could throw at the Sixers to try and get Simmons. But there are two very clear things here that have me thinking it just ain’t happening.

1) Depending on where you want to put Christian Wood in the pecking order, two of Houston’s brightest young stars are Jalen Green (#2 overall pick this year) and Kevin Porter. Those guys are both guards and are both going to want the ball in their hands a lot. Plopping Simmons in with those guys? I just don’t see the fit.

2) Who is Philly getting back in this deal that helps them win now? The Rockets sure as hell aren’t sending Green, and I doubt they’d send KPJ either. Maybe Wood? His best position in the NBA is as a five, so I don’t see the fit next to Embiid. Eric Gordon? C’mon.

I don’t think +275 are nearly good enough odds, especially when you have a far likelier team at the exact same number.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves are the sneaky team in this scenario, as I can absolutely talk myself into this being a great fit for both sides.

I’ll start with the Philly side of things, because that is where I’m the most unsure. In Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards (amongst some other solid role player pieces), the Timberwolves actually have players that could help the Sixers in the here and now. We can throw KAT out as a possible trade candidate because, even if he isn’t “untouchable” like Minnesota says he is, pairing him next to Embiid probably isn’t realistic in this day and age. Reports are also saying that Minnesota is calling Edwards untouchable. So if we believe that to be true, that leaves…

D’Angelo Russell.

Russell is an extremely polarizing player. His defenders think he is an All-NBA type of talent, while his detractors think he is nothing more than an empty stats guy. While I personally am somewhere in the middle there, I definitely lean more toward the latter. That being said, I do think he’d fit rather nicely with Embiid (just like I said regarding Dame though, just on offense). Russell operates effectively as the primary ball-handler in the pick-and-roll, and he is a sufficient long-range shooter when he operates off the ball.

The only mystery here is what Philly (i.e. Daryl Morey) thinks of Russell. My guess is that he is nowhere near the top of their ideal list. But an ideal list is way different than a realistic list. And Russell may be the best realistic option they have when things start to get realllllly awkward here in the next week or so (when training camp starts and the Simmons questions are rampant).

As for the Simmons fit in Minnesota, I actually kinda like that too! Think about it. What is the one thing people point to when they say how poorly of a fit Simmons and Embiid are? It’s that you have two great players who are at their best when they are around the rim. But having two guys down there at the same time is not only terrible for modern day spacing, it also makes it easier for the defense to help.

Soooo wouldn’t it make sense to pair Simmons with one of the best shooting big men in the game? Below are KAT’s three-point shooting numbers in his past four seasons.

2017-18: 42.1% (3.5 attempts per game)

2018-19: 40% (4.6 attempts per game)

2019-20: 41.2% (7.9 attempts per game)

2020-21: 38.7% (6.3 attempts per game)

The guy is one of the most (offensively) versatile big men in the history of the game, but people have basically forgotten about him since he is in Minnesota and had a bit of a down year last year (considering what he went through, who could blame him).

If Minnesota could get away with only parting with Russell, a role player or two, and some draft assets, I think they’d do it. Would Philly though? Who the heck knows…

The Longshots

I won’t waste your time by cooking up hypotheticals for the rest of these teams. I will say that, while the Warriors have been a trendy team this offseason in the Simmons Sweepstakes, recent comments from their owner make it seem like they have little to no interest in acquiring Simmons. There’s always the chance that he was blowing smoke to put people off the scent, but I doubt it here on this one.

The Kings? Yeah, I could see it IF they are willing to deal Tyrese Haliburton. Are they though? Shouldershrugemoji

I honestly haven’t given too much though on the rest of those teams listed as potential destinations. The one team that stuck out to me was the Wizards at +4000. Why? They are the one team on that list that has a superstar who is—shall we say, restless?—in his current situation. I opened up the dialogue by talking about Dame and the Blazers, and you could easily swap in Beal and the Wizards in every single sentence up there. So the Wizards would be my longshot of choice. But again, I’m basically just thinking out loud here when it comes to these longshots.

Betting Thoughts

When it comes to the Sixers, I find them as a team to avoid on most of their futures bets. In my opinion, the best situation (of the realistic trade scenarios that have been reported) for them as a team this season would be if they are able to acquire Damian Lillard. So, hypothetically, let’s say that actually happens at some point early in the season. Do you think that would actually catapult them up to being the favorites to win the title? Or even the East? I don’t.

The Brooklyn Nets are still likely going to be the favorites to win it all (+240 on PointsBet at the time I am writing this). The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are also in the East, and they have the third shortest odds at +850. The Lakers are the other team in the mix there, sitting at +340. Maybe the Sixers would vault past the Bucks if they somehow get Dame. But it’s still the Nets who will be the favorites. And I learned long ago to never overlook a team that has LeBron James on it.

The next place to look then would be at Philly’s regular season win total, which PointsBet has at 50.5. But their season can go in so many different directions that I think it’s silly to throw a wager on that either way.

Do you want to be holding a ticket on the over if Simmons and Morey engage in a staring contest that goes on well into the start of the regular season? Say what you want about Simmons’ game and what he did (or didn’t do) in the playoffs, but he is still one of their best players. Not having him on the court—and not having whoever they would theoretically trade for down the line while Simmons is holding out—is only going to hurt their ability to win games.

And what if Simmons reluctantly reports to camp so he doesn’t lose out on a crap-ton (what do you mean that isn’t a word, spellcheck!?) of money due to fines, suspensions, etc. for failure to render services on his contract? Can you say AWWWKKKKKWARRRRD! I’m sure Embiid won’t take to Twitter at all to offer his thoughts on the subject. Noooo, he never does that!

On the other side of this coin, do you want to be holding a ticket on the under if Morey pulls another rabbit out of his hat and acquires Dame (or another superstar we aren’t even thinking about) one week from now? Or one month from now? Pssshhh I certainly don’t.

This whole Philly situation is an avoid for me when it comes to the gambling world. I’m perfectly content just watching the drama unfold and getting my entertainment in that way.

A bet I do like though that is attached to all of this? The over on the Minnesota Timberwolves.

PointsBet has their over/under set at 34.5, so they’d need to go at least 35-47 to hit this for you. That would mean winning 42.6% of their 82 games, which isn’t exactly comforting considering they won just 31.9% of their 72 games last season (23-49).

But remember, this team hired Chris Finch midway through last season. Their record under Finch? 16-25, which equates to a 39% winning percentage. And they hardly ever had their three best players (KAT, Russell, Edwards) together at the same time last year. According to NBA Stats, that trio played just 327 minutes together all season.

Ultimately, I think this team can take a mini-leap this season. If not high enough to enter the playoff/play-in conversation, then at least enough to hit the over on this win total. And if they are able to swoop in and land Simmons? Then that arrow is going to be pointing up even more, if you ask me.

Image Credit: Imagn

About the Author

  • Andy Means (meansy53)

  • Andy Means, aka meansy53, was a walk-on with the esteemed Duke University basketball team for three years before graduating in 2004. He has a Masters in Accounting from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and has been playing DFS since 2014 – professionally since 2016. He is a featured contributor for RotoGrinders who has qualified for multiple live finals and displays his extensive basketball knowledge as the lead host of our top premium show – NBA Crunch Time.

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