Spurs rumors: Ben Simmons 'would welcome chance to play for Popovich.'

Ben Simmons
Ben Simmons / Mike Ehrmann/GettyImages

According to one NBA insider, Ben Simmons would welcome the opportunity to play for Gregg Popovich if the San Antonio Spurs were able to find a way to acquire him.

The situation between the disgruntled star and his Philadelphia 76ers has been as messy as any player-team relationship I have ever seen, with Simmons still holding out while the Sixers sit at 14-11 in the Eastern Conference.

While Sixers GM Daryl Morey continues to insist he'll hold off as long as it takes to get an equal or better return for Simmons, many believe the toxic situation will have to come to a head sooner than later. According to former ESPN columnist Marc Stein, Simmons is open to playing (subscription required) for the San Antonio Spurs.

In making his point that Gregg Popovich remains the biggest selling point in playing for the Spurs, Stein says he's heard that Simmons would welcome a chance to play for the Hall of Fame coach if the situation arose.

Still, the 76ers remain dead set on getting Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers as their only outspoken trade offer. This quote doesn't exactly seem reassuring on that front, though.

Is a Ben Simmons trade to the San Antonio Spurs realistic?

Given all we know about the Spurs and in-season trades, that already pushes this rumor back a little. But previous reports that said Simmons would only play for certain teams are now being contradicted with this development from Stein.

Maybe if San Antonio now gets wind that Simmons would be interested in playing for them, they'll start to seriously mull over an offer for the three-time NBA All-Star. After all, a backcourt of Dejounte Murray and Ben Simmons would instantly become the best defensive backcourt in the league and would certainly keep the Spurs hovering around the top 5 in defensive rating and maybe higher.

While it's well-chronicled Morey wants nothing less than a king's ransom for Simmons, what's next for them if Lillard stays the course? Is Morey really prepared to drag this situation out for four years, as he's previously stated? That would not make the city of Philadelphia happy, and they're already always on edge as it is.

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With the Spurs beginning to establish who should and shouldn't be here long term, they should have a better idea of who's on the table in a potential trade for a star. They'd be smart to at least entertain the idea.