Simmons’ future on the line as NBA trade deadline approaches

Whether we see Ben Simmons this NBA season will likely be decided in the next three weeks.

The NBA trade deadline is due on February 11 (AEDT) and once it passes, teams can no longer trade players. Multiple US outlets have reported claims from his management that he won’t suit up for the Philadelphia 76ers if he is still on the roster after deadline.

Could a trade finally emerge for Australian NBA star Ben Simmons?Credit:Getty

Veteran Philadelphia Inquirer basketball writer Keith Pompey reported on Thursday that talks were ongoing between the Sacramento Kings and the Sixers involving Simmons, Boomers star Matisse Thybulle and forward Tobias Harris for Bubby Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, and Harrison Barnes.

Hield is a quality three-pointer shooter, Haliburton is a young guard with the potential to possibly be an All-Star while Barnes is a veteran forward who started alongside Andrew Bogut in Golden State’s first title of the Stephen Curry era.

Several other teams have been considering Simmons but few have been able to meet the Sixers’ demands of a proven superstar in return.

Simmons has yet to play a game this season in what could be a lost campaign for the Australian playmaker.

If traded, the next matter will be how long it will take Simmons to find his game conditioning after not playing an official game since the Sixers lost their play-off series with the Atlanta Hawks last June.

NBA opportunities hurting Kings in import market

Sydney Kings chief executive Chris Pongrass has no doubt constant NBA COVID-19 cases are stopping potential imports heading to the NBL.

According to NBA.com, 544 players had court time in December which shattered any previous records, due to teams losing multiple players to COVID-19 protocols and signing short-term replacements including former NBL imports Keifer Sykes and Cam Oliver. Pongrass and the Kings are in the market for a replacement for import guard RJ Hunter whose season has been ended prematurely by a knee injury.

“100 per cent it’s tougher than usual,” Pongrass told Hoops Heaven this week. “If you look back pre-COVID-19, at this time of year the NBA contract guarantee date is approaching, so players were getting waived but all of that has changed completely.

The Sydney Kings’ RJ Hunter is out injured.Credit:Getty Images

“I think there have been over 100 G-League call-ups [to the NBA] due to COVID-19, so players are rightfully wanting to wait around because you can make high five figures or six figures for a 10-day contract along with the chance to prove themselves in the NBA. That’s something a lot of these players have been dreaming about their whole career.

“It’s far more difficult than previous years but there are still some nice prospects that we are excited about.”

The Kings need an injection of talent with Hunter and centre Jordan Hunter, no relation, both out for the season but Pongrass refuses to sign someone who doesn’t fit the bill.

“We are keeping all options open but are particularly focused on a wing or a guard,” Pongrass said.

“We are looking at a playmaker, a facilitator and someone who can shoot the ball well. We have had some injuries with our bigs but adding another big to the mix, that forces someone else into a back-up role, so it doesn’t really fit what we need.”

One thing which has become easier for NBL teams is bringing players into the country, with quarantine requirements eased and more flights available.

There is a possibility the market could be opening up too, as fewer NBA players are out with COVID-19 and teams are settling their rosters for a run at the play-offs but that’s far from certain.

“You might see NBA 10-day contracts largely dry up, so could there be light on the horizon and other options available. But you are rolling the dice they don’t fall back into that cycle of COVID-19 protocols,” Pongrass said.

“We have some guys we are excited about and I’m hoping we can get one of them out here pretty quickly.”

‘It has been there a lot of his career’: Coach praises Delly’s shooting

At the start of the NBL season, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald reported Matthew Dellavedova’s determination to be more aggressive offensively and after some shooting struggles, he turned the corner in the win over Illawarra on Sunday with 33 points on seven of 11 shooting from the three-point line.

That tally was his highest across his NBA, NBL and college basketball career at St Marys, beating his college high of 32 points and his NBA career-best 21 points against Detroit in 2014.

United coach Dean Vickerman said people hadn’t respected Dellavedova’s consistent shooting percentages due to more recent struggles in limited NBA minutes.

“You go through the number of years that he was a 40 per cent shooter in the NBA and the way he shot it in college – it has been there a lot of his career,” Vickerman said.

“We see him work on it every day and even in the last couple of weeks when we didn’t play many games, we could see how hard he worked. It was great to see his hard work rewarded. That was a special one.”

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