Malcom Brogdon at UVA

Let trade rumor season begin! According to Jason Dumas, the Indiana Pacers recently offered a package of guard Malcolm Brogdon and a first round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for point forward Ben Simmons. Philadelphia, Dumas reported, declined the trade offer:

Dumas is the Sports Director for KRON4 News in San Francisco. He doubles as an NBA reporter for Bleacher Report and is a Philly native. He has strong Philly ties and has delivered accurate information about the Sixers in recent memory. So, there’s certainly reason to believe the legitimacy of his reporting. But, let’s break down this trade for both sides.

Why Would The Pacers Do This Deal?

Truthfully, I don’t know. Sure, Simmons is better than Brogdon at everything other than scoring the basketball. However, Brogdon’s contract is cheaper and expires sooner than Simmons’ does. Thus, the Pacers theoretically have more wiggle room with their roster if they keep Brogdon than they would after acquiring Simmons.

Additionally, Brogdon fits better next to Myles Turner, a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, and Domantas Sabonis, a two-time All-Star. Neither of those bigs give the Pacers much production from the perimeter, so trading the lead ball-handler and shot-creator for Simmons–who does nothing on the perimeter–makes no sense as it relates to Indiana’s spacing.

The Pacers haven’t been known to recklessly bomb away from beyond the arc, and their lack of modern offense has hurt them in recent seasons. While adding Simmons certainly aids in generating perimeter looks for other Pacers, fielding a team requiring significant minutes from Turner, Sabonis, and Simmons seems completely detrimental to adapting to the modern game.

Acquiring Simmons feels like a play to lean too heavily into defense while completely neglecting offense. Recent history has proven that that concept doesn’t result in championships. If that’s not the way the Pacers would be looking to go, a Simmons trade would necessitate other moves around the roster.

In other words, perhaps the Pacers have a higher floor with Simmons than they do with Brogdon. But, doing that trade would open up further questions about Indiana’s offense. So, it creates more work to be done around the roster.

Why Would The Sixers Do This Deal?

This is a scenario worth revisiting for Philadelphia after they examine the rest of the trade market. Brogdon scored 21 points per game this season on splits of 45 percent from the field, 39 percent on triples, and 86 percent from the charity stripe. He also filled up the stat 6 assists, and 5 rebounds per game this season. The best sense of what he would add to the Sixers is reflected in his pull-up shooting numbers. He connected on 40 percent of his 7 pull-up field goal attempts per game this season. That efficiency was better than that of stars such as Donovan Mitchell, Trae Young, Damian Lillard, James Harden, and Jayson Tatum. That all translates to a guard who is adept at creating his own shot and making plays for others.

Age And Injury History

Having said all of that, there are valid reasons for opposing such a deal. Brogdon turns 29 years old during the 2021-22 season. Simmons will turn 25 this month. My stance would be that the age discrepancy is only worth it if you’re reeling in a player like Damian Lillard. Exchanging Simmons for Brogdon improves Philly’s half-court offense, which will do wonders for their chances of succeeding in the playoffs. But, there are valid concerns for the defensive side of the ball. The Pacers, overall, were a mediocre defensive team this season. They gave up 111.1 points–and were outscored by a half point–per 100 possessions with Brogdon on the floor this season. That was better than what their defense surrendered on average. However, it’s nothing special.

Perhaps you can attribute the uninspiring defensive output to Brogdon’s playing for an uninspiring defensive team. The relatively significant deviation from his career defensive numbers would indicate as much. However, injuries suffered to Brogdon’s neck, knee, back, hip, and hamstring over the last twelve months render it impossible to dismiss the idea that physical wear and tear could be at play, especially as he gets older.

Again, Brogdon and a first rounder is a trade worth revisiting once the picture of how Simmons’ trade market is shaping up is clearer. At the moment, I agree with the Sixers’ decision to reject the trade. If this is the baseline offer, the Sixers should be able to reel in more. But, this reported package proves that Simmons’ tangibles (what he’s already shown he can do) and intangibles (youth and potential) hold promising return value around the league.

What I’ve Heard

I did some due diligence on this report and heard information that generally corroborated Dumas’ words. One individual told me that the report is accurate, but that the Sixers are not interested in Brogdon. Another source told me that the Pacers called about Simmons, but discussions were more geared towards gauging what the Sixers were looking for in trade talks. A reporter from another platform said they heard that Indiana was extremely passionate about acquiring Simmons. But, they did not offer any information on Philly’s side of the conversation.

The NBA world will have to wait and see how Philadelphia plays this thing out. So hold on, because the Simmons era may be coming in for a landing.