Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard wants to play with Ben Simmons, according to a new report from The Athletic's Shams Charania.
"Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons," Charania writes.
On Friday, Portland fired their general manager Neil Olshey following an independent investigation which determined he violated the team's code of conduct, announcing Joe Cronin as the new interim GM.
Portland and Philadelphia have already, according to this report, discussed a deal involving Simmons and Blazers guard CJ McCollum.
"Sources say the Trail Blazers, under Olshey, discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia. The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected."
Now, under new management, the speculation is the Trail Blazers may re-visit a potential Simmons for McCollum trade.
Portland is 11-13 and Philadelphia, who has been without Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris for multiple games due to COVID-19, is 12-11.
McCollum, 30, played for Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA from 2009-2013. He has spent all nine of his NBA seasons with the Trail Blazers, averaging 19.0 points, 3.3 assists, and 3.4 rebounds on 45.3 FG% / 39.7 3P% / 82.1 FT% shooting splits.
Simmons, 25, has yet to play a game yet for the team this season after requesting a trade months ago. Simmons is reportedly working with team doctors to help him mentally prepare to return to the court, but nothing has indicated that will happen any time soon.
Simmons, a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time All-NBA first team defender, teamer signed a five-year contract worth $170 million in 2019. He has already made approximate $90 million and he is due around another $114 million over the next three seasons, according to spotrac.com.
McCollum has a three-year, $100 million contract. He is due a base salary of approximately $30.8M, $33.3M, and $35.8M, respectively, from 2021-22 to 2023-24, per spotrac.com.
Simmons would give Lillard a dominant defensive and transitional players, while McCollum would serve as a wing scorer and shot maker for Philadelphia, if the teams were to agree on a trade.