It was an exhausting year for everyone involved in the Simmons saga, as the story seemed to take a different turn every week while numerous teams would come up in trade talks. From rumors that Simmons would welcome a chance to play for Coach Popovich to others about the Spurs having an interest in acquiring him, San Antonio was often brought up in those talks.
Ultimately, the Sixers were able to get a trade deadline day deal done with the Brooklyn Nets last month, sending their disgruntled star for another disgruntled star, James Harden. As it stands, Philadelphia is fourth in the Eastern Conference while the Nets have fallen to eighth.
While it's likely Harden's presence will help the Sixers in a potential championship run this year more than holding onto Simmons would've, there's still a debate about whether they could've gotten something better.
TrueHoop's David Thorpe weighs in
"I thought Daryl Morey and the Spurs should've done a deal that sent Ben Simmons to the Spurs and got back Dejounte Murray and Derrick White," said David Thorpe of TrueHoop recently. "I thought the Sixers would be the best team in the league if they had both White and Murray."
Of course, with Murray's All-Star selection and White now blossoming in Boston, Thorpe acknowledges the Spurs probably wouldn't have benefitted much from such a deal.
"Dejounte is playing so similar to the way Ben has played. Going forward, I would rather have Derrick White and Dejounte Murray than James Harden," he continued. "Those two guys, with Joel Embiid and that staff, it would've been better than what they're getting from James."
Even when pushed further by Zach Lowe to answer if Philadelphia's chances this season would be better with that duo over Harden, he held steady. "I think it's probably closer than most people would guess, but I'd probably lean toward yes."
"We know what happened in the West [with Harden] in years past, so I think he's got a lot of pressure right now. If I'm Philly, I'd rather have those two guys and a growing Tyrese Maxey."
Given how Murray has developed so quickly in his first season as the primary option, it's a good thing the Spurs didn't entertain such a potential offer for Simmons, even if the latter has more accolades to his name.
Still, it's interesting to think about where the 76ers would be now and going forward with such a backcourt.