Orlando Magic: Is there any sense at all in a Ben Simmons trade?

May 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) passes the behind Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) passes the behind Orlando Magic center Wendell Carter Jr. (34) during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

There is little doubt the Orlando Magic should stay as they are this coming season. They have a host of young players, with potential Rookie of the Year candidate Jalen Suggs among them, and a first-year head coach in Jamahl Mosley who will be tasked with building towards a brighter future.

The front office has done a really good job of clearing the decks of older players who were in their primes (Nikola Vucevic) or appeared to be close to the finished product (Aaron Gordon). Sacrificing some of their youth for another more established individual doesn’t look like it is part of the plan at this point, and it shouldn’t be.

The Orlando Magic look like a team that is on course to get back to being competitive, but could the addition of Ben Simmons speed that process up?

On the face of it, why would the Magic want to give up some of their exciting prospects for a player like Simmons? A guy who has been put under the microscope more than any guy in the league this summer, and who we all just watched struggle so mightily in the postseason alongside a superstar like Joel Embiid.

Well the point of competing in the NBA is to build a sustainable product that can reach the highest level, while also enticing fans as well. The Orlando Magic could very well be on their way to that, and sacrificing so many of their prospects does not seem the right way to approach this. But it is also an undeniable fact that Simmons is currently better than any player on the Magic’s roster by some distance.

It doesn’t bear thinking about at this moment, but the franchise currently has Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, R.J. Hampton, Gary Harris and Wendell Carter Jr. If they don’t make another trade for five years, they still won’t have the money to keep all of these players (meaning some would leave for nothing), and also fill out the rest of their roster.

They also most likely have two lottery picks coming in next year’s draft as well. The playing time just won’t be there in the future to accommodate anybody. The point of building up a bank of youngsters and keeping the cap sheet clean is to strike when a star player wants out (or is forced out as is the case with Simmons) of their current situation.

So the Magic are actually primed very nicely to strike here if they want to. But would they want to? No matter how big a fan you are of the Magic, you have to admit to yourself that it is a smaller market team and that free agents have one every signed on to play there once a superstar was in place.

Suggs could be that guy. Isaac too if he ever gets properly healthy. Add Simmons to those players though, and it becomes a much more attractive proposition. That is definitely a playoff core that could push even higher with the right players around them.

We don’t need to go into detail about the deficiencies of Simmons, because everybody else has. His offensive limitations are obvious, and no amount of preseason workout footage is going to do anything to change that. Instead, let’s focus on the positives, and the main one is how terrifying a team featuring Simmons and a healthy Isaac could be. Add Fultz and Carter Jr. to that group, and opponents might never score again.

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Obviously, the Orlando Magic might not have all of those guys on the team, and that is the main issue here. Giving up the wrong player at this point in their growth would be a disaster. Coach Mosley wasn’t brought in to win now either, but the nature of the NBA is an unpredictable one and there would be nothing wrong with giving him the opportunity to do this while working with the young players who would still be on the roster.

Trading Fultz back to the 76ers seems a little too on the nose, and Suggs should be off the table. Would you be willing to part with Isaac though? Or both first-round picks in 2022, as well as one more in the future, to sell the 76ers on helping Embiid to win by adding cheap young players to fill out their own rotation?

You throw in Mohamed Bamba every day, and depending on salaries it may be that Hampton or Anthony, or possibly both, would have to go. A tough sell for Magic fans, but Simmons would take many of their minutes anyway. As scary as that all sounds, to get a guy who has been an All-Star and made an All-NBA team, and who needs a change of scenery, is worth considering.

We all believe that Simmons needs his own team in a different city in order to get the best out of himself and to reach his full potential. Fultz did it away from the glare in Orlando, and Simmons could as well. It is a big risk. Other stars are sure to become available via trade and the Magic are one of the better-placed organizations right now to make a deal if that happens.

But there is logic in going after Simmons, and the price has never been lower. The fit is not bad and there would still be youth on the roster to push their ceiling higher. Dancing with the devil in the form of president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is always risky, but the time for the 76ers to win is now. The Orlando Magic could take advantage of that.

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