San Antonio Spurs: Neither 76ers star is worth trading for right now
The San Antonio Spurs don’t need to concern themselves with the Sixers stars
The San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers both had less than ideal ends to their seasons. For San Antonio, it was seeing the end of a 22-year streak of playoff appearances. For Philly, it came in the form of watching their title hopes fall apart in the form of a first-round sweep at the hands of their rivals, the Boston Celtics.
The reaction from Sixers fans, and the front office, was swift and decisive. From the fans, it was calling for everything from trading away one or both of their stars, demanding a new coach, or suggesting a full front office purge. The site expert over at The Sixer Sense, Chris Kline, put it best.
“We have beaten this dead horse far too many times to count at this website, but everyone — from the front office, to the coaching staff, to the players — must reckon with this disaster of a campaign.”
It didn’t take long for the coaching staff to reckon with the disaster they’d gotten the franchise into. Brett Brown was fired shortly after the team’s first-round exit and may even now be looking for his next job opportunity. Might he be interested in a return to San Antonio?
Kline didn’t directly call for the Sixers to trade away one of Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons. In fact, he strongly opposed moving either one. But others have and likely will continue to lobby for a larger shake-up of the roster. Here’s why the San Antonio Spurs don’t need to be interested in either one of Philly’s stars.
Philly’s asking price is going higher than the San Antonio Spurs should meet
When healthy, both of the Sixers stars are two of the most dominant forces in all of basketball. Simmons is LeBron James like in his ability to push the pace and find shooters all over the floor. But unlike LeBron, he’s engaged on the defensive end all the time. He led the league in steals per game this year and is one of the few players capable of competently guarding every player on the floor. Don’t be surprised if he picks up a Defensive Player of the Year award before his career is over.
Embiid is one of the most singularly impressive big men I’ve ever seen play. There’s nothing he can’t do on offense, he’s a monster on defense, and I absolutely adore the way he leans into playing the role of the villain from time to time. The league is a better place when JoJo is healthy and ruining other team’s frontcourts.
The problem is that any deal that brings either one of Philly’s stars to San Antonio is likely to cost an absolute bucketload of players and picks. The Spurs entire young core could be up for grabs, as well as multiple key first-round picks. Given where they are right now, that’s far too high of a price for the Spurs to pay.
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San Antonio is coming off an impressive eight-game stretch in the bubble that proved that their young core has what it takes to build around. There’s even some optimism that they might be able to coexist in the long term with DeMar DeRozan. There’s absolutely no need to mortgage all of that now to bring Simmons or Embiid to the Alamo City.
If there weren’t such substantial injury concerns around both players maybe this would be different. But Embiid missed his first two full seasons with foot injuries and has never logged more than 64 games in an NBA season. When he’s playing he’s great, but it’s hard to rationalize selling off a good chunk of your assets for a guy who’s availability is always going to be a question mark.
Simmons is healthier but still, he’s missed a full season due to a foot injury as well and missed the Sixers playoff sweep after undergoing knee surgery to repair a partially dislocated patella. Not as bad as what Embiid has gone through, but still a cause for concern.
No, the San Antonio Spurs front office should trust themselves to be able to identify and develop an impressive player in this upcoming draft to add to their team. Then they’ll have a healthy amount of cap space in the summer of 2021 when they can go star chasing. No need to trade away a bunch of picks and players when you’ve got good things coming your way.
Maybe the Sixers end up moving one of Embiid or Simmons this summer and maybe they don’t. Either way, the San Antonio Spurs don’t need to put in any calls. They’re doing just fine on their own.