Does It Make Sense for the 76ers to Sign Ben Simmons to a Max Contract Now?

Jaylen Brown and Ben Simmons
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The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons are reportedly discussing a five-year max extension worth $170 million, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski for the 6-foot-10 point guard.

Ben Simmons Is Going to Be a Philadelphia 76er for the Foreseeable Future

Before getting into the impact of the contract for 76ers, I have a couple of thoughts about the timing of this extension.

The first thought is: why now? Yes, Simmons is a unique talent but he still has one year left on his contract. If the 76ers didn’t act on an extension right now, the Australian native would only be a restricted free agent at the end of the year. 

The 22-year-old did show improvement on the offensive end last year from his rookie campaign, although his game is still limited to operating around the hoop. Simmons finished the year with averages of 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.7 assists while shooting 56.3% from the field — all numbers except for assists were up from 2017-18 production. He recorded 42 double-doubles and 10 triple-doubles in 79 appearances. However, 82% of his shot attempts came from within five feet of the hoop and 94.4% of his tries were from nine feet or less. The 2019 All-Star selection took a step back defensively. 

In addition, Philadelphia won one fewer game this year than the previous season. The Sixers also saw both campaigns end in the conference semifinals. 

So, why not wait until later in the year to see if Simmons, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris truly fit together? I get it, the Sixers want to play nice with Simmons and have some continuity going forward, which is important. Let’s say that Simmons does agree to the deal — which I don’t see not happening — and he still can’t hit a perimeter shot which would clog the lane for Embiid and Harris. Drastically limiting both players effectiveness, particularly Embiid, as Harris can score from almost anywhere on the court. 

When Simmons does re-up, the 76ers’ core is signed through 2023 and that includes Al Horford, who was recently added to the roster as a free agent. The Sixers other big-time acquisition Josh Richardson is signed through 2022.

What Does the 76ers’ Current Roster Look Like?

Is there a downside to inking Simmons to the extension? No, not really.

If it doesn’t work out, the 76ers would likely trade Simmons. As opposed to not offering him the max and potentially losing him for nothing. The Sixers would take a little bit of a hit with a trade (salary cap) and obviously would not get dollar for dollar value in return. Although, the Sixers would still get a good haul back with a combo of picks and current players. Likely, similar to the Pelicans got in the Anthony Davis trade. 

The 76ers are currently maxed out and they have only 13 players. Meaning that the Sixers can add three more players to the 15-man roster as Norvell Pelle is on a two-way contract.

Philadelphia is more than $11 million over the salary cap. The 76ers have spent more than $318 million on free agents thus far. They used the money to ink Harris, and Shake Milton, in addition to Horford, to long-term deals. The Sixers also signed Mike Scott and James Ennis as well as rookie Matisse Thybulle to multi-year deals. Kyle O’Quinn and Raul Neto are on veteran minimum deals.

Being over the cap means that the Sixers will likely have to fill out their remaining roster with minimum contracts. The good news is that they will still have the availability of a $4.7 million room exception as well as three trade exceptions to use to potentially work out a few deals.

So Where Do the 76ers Go from Here?

With the signing of Neto, the Sixers got their veteran backup point guard after free agent T.J. McConnell bolted for a multi-year deal with Indiana. However, they could still use a three-point shooter, a scorer off the bench as well as another big man.

One option for the 76ers could be Kyle Korver once he gets bought out by the Suns, according to Wojarnowski. The Sixers aren’t the only option for Korver as the Lakers and Bucks are expected to be interested as well.

Korver is one of the best sharpshooters of all-time. The 39-year-old ranks third among all active NBA players in 3-pointers made and second in 3-point%. Overall, the former 76er ranks fourth all-time in triples made and ninth in 3-point%. Korver averaged 8.6 points, 2.0 threes, and 2.3 rebounds per game in 19.6 minutes over 70 contest for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Utah Jazz last season.

Shelvin Mack, Trey Burke, and Jamal Crawford are other veteran options. As is another former Sixer forward Jerami Grant.

Additionally, the 76ers could add a couple from their Las Vegas Summer League squad. Thybulle, Milton, Zhaire Smith, and Pelle are players under contract who will be playing in Sin City. 2019 second-round draft choice Marial Shayok, Haywood Highsmith, Christ Koumadje, Zach Hankins, Terry Harris, and P.J. Dozier are a few other players to keep an eye on.



Main Photo:

Boston Celtics’ Jaylen Brown (left) and Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons in action during the NBA London Game 2018 at the O2 Arena, London. (Photo by Simon Cooper/PA Images via Getty Images)