Grade the trade: Blazers take flier on ex-NBA superstar in Lillard proposal

Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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The Blazers could take a flier on Ben Simmons in a Damian Lillard trade.
Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

Ben Simmons could potentially become a huge asset for the Trail Blazers

First, to state the obvious, there are a number of reasons why Ben Simmons could be a huge chunk of salary that does nothing but sit on the bench in Portland for two years before his contract runs out.

He’s played 42 total games the past two seasons, missing the entire 2021-22 campaign with what could be designated as “drama” rather than “injury.”

After flaming out miserably in the 2021 postseason, Simmons demanded a trade and refused to return to Philadelphia. He wasn’t even with the team for a stretch and was eventually included in the trade that brought James Harden from the Nets to the 76ers.

Simmons seemed set to return to the court with a fresh start in Brooklyn, but that never happened as he missed the rest of the year with a back injury.

He played in 42 games last year before being shut down again, this time with a knee injury. He averaged 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 6.1 assists in a little more than 26 minutes per game.


  • Simmons is still only 26 years old and was the No.1 pick in the 2017 draft for a reason – he’s an athletic, pass-first, lock-down defender at point guard but in a 6-foot-10 center’s body.
  • He was the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year.
  • He was named First Team All-Defense two seasons in a row, the most recent coming just three years ago.
  • He was a member of the All-NBA Third Team in 2019-20, which means he was thought of as one of the best 15 players in the entire league.

There’s a chance – however small – that he could become a useful player and/or asset, as Bill Simmons laid out in his podcast:

"Is this a distressed asset that might actually become an asset for us? Let’s put him in a small market on a rebuilding team around a bunch of young players and just kind of unleash him and let him go. He’s kind of what they need, they need a jack-of-all-trades, defense, unselfish guy. There’s more than enough shots on that team already. Roll the dice with it. — Bill Simmons on Ben Simmons’ fit with the Portland Trail Blazers"

If the former LSU star doesn’t work in Portland, the team struggles even more next season and increases its chances of landing another high lottery pick, and then he becomes a massive expiring contract and trade chip in 2024-25.

“More importantly,” Bill Simmons said, “it allows [Portland] to get more picks out of this.

“I think this is the only way Dame goes to Miami.”

Bill called Ben Simmons “probably the least-tradeable contract in the league,” which means there’s an opportunity for the Blazers to acquire extra draft capital in the deal as Brooklyn gets rid of that salary and adds a young, ascending 23-year-old proven scorer in Herro.

Next. 5 under-the-radar targets the Blazers could explore in a Damian Lillard trade. dark

To sum it all up, the logic makes sense: bring in an aging point guard in Lowry, an overpaid specialist in Robinson, or a former All-NBA superstar who has even a 1 percent chance at becoming that player again and land extra assets in the process.

Ben Simmons is worth the flier as a low-risk, massively high-reward piece of a Damian Lillard trade.