Russell would be a disappointing centerpiece in a return package for the 76ers, but at least he’d fit as someone who can create his own shot, including from distance. With Joel Embiid becoming increasingly dominant, Philadelphia might be better off accepting a not-as-good-in-vacuum, but better-fitting alternative to Simmons.
Except Minnesota isn’t necessarily offering Russell.
Even if the Wolves did include D’Angelo Russell in an offer — and they have talked all summer about building a team with Towns, Edwards and Russell around Simmons — it would not appear to be the magic bullet move that Morey needs to part ways with one of the best defensive players in the league … yet.
In conversations with teams in Las Vegas, I came away with the impression that the Timberwolves were the team that was most active in talks to try to make a Simmons deal happen.
Minnesota would have to be active to make a Simmons trade happen without including Towns, Edwards or Russell.
The Timberwolves could roughly match Simmons’ value with a package including Malik Beasley, Josh Okogie, Jaden McDaniels, four first-round picks and three first-round pick swaps. However, those picks don’t directly help the 76ers, who are trying to win now. So, this would likely have to be a multi-team deal – which are never easy to pull off.
The Timberwolves came out ahead in trades for both Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince. But neither player can be aggregated in a Simmons deal for two months after their prior trades. So, it seems likely Minnesota didn’t believe a Simmons trade was close or was far enough in negotiations with Philadelphia to know Jarrett Culver and Juancho Hernangomez (sent to the Grizzlies for Beverley) and Ricky Rubio (sent to the Cavaliers for Prince) wouldn’t be useful in a Simmons trade.
Simmons is trying to apply pressure on Philadelphia. And maybe the 76ers will accept whatever the Timberwolves are offering before opening training camp with Simmons potentially holding out.
But – if not surrendering Russell – Minnesota faces more roster hurdles with a Simmons trade than just a few weeks ago.