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#pounditSaturday, January 22, 2022

Report: Star player wants to play with Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons during a game

Ben Simmons has seemingly done nothing but hurt his own trade value since the Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated from the postseason last year, but at least one star player is interested in teaming up with the former first overall pick.

Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard wants to play with Simmons, according to Shams Charania and Sam Amick of The Athletic. The Blazers are once again struggling defensively this season and rank 30th in defensive rating. While Simmons’ career has essentially been derailed by his shooting woes, he’s a tremendous defensive player. Lillard believes that would give Portland and immediate boost.

Lillard’s scoring numbers are also down this season. He’s averaging 21.5 points per game in his first season under head coach Chauncey Billups after scoring 28.8 points per game last year. Lillard reportedly feels that sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter who is an excellent defender could be beneficial for both him and the Blazers.

But is there a trade to be had? Charania and Amick report that former Blazers general manager Neil Olshey, who was fired following a workplace misconduct investigation last week, had discussed a potential Simmons trade with the Sixers. The talks involved CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a younger Blazers player. The 76ers countered by asking for McCollum, multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps. Portland declined, but it’s unclear if the discussions will pick back up under a new GM.

Lillard still has not asked the Blazers for a trade, but he remains unhappy with the state of the roster. Portland is 11-13, which could create a sense of urgency for Lillard and the team’s front office. If Lillard does ask for a trade, he may have one specific team in mind.

Photo: Apr 9, 2021; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons (25) gestures after a call in the first quarter against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

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