Could Hawks end up with Ben Simmons despite failing at the trade deadline?

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The Hawks are set to be major players this NBA offseason. GM Travis Schlenk admitted they shouldn’t have run it back with the same squad that made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, and he’ll have the support from ownership to pursue higher-priced players. Owner Tony Ressler, who’s cutting the checks, told members of the media that entering the luxury tax doesn’t scare him.

Expect significant moves from the Hawks. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are two of the most popular names that have been linked to Atlanta, but Ben Simmons could be someone to ‘keep an eye on,’ according to Chris Kirschner of The Athletic.

“I’d also keep an eye on Simmons, too. Several people inside the Hawks’ organization wanted Simmons at the trade deadline. The price might not be as high to land him now, especially if Brooklyn decides to move on before he plays one game for the Nets.”

During this past season’s trade deadline, the Hawks were rumored to be heavily interested in bringing Simmons to Atlanta. The 76ers’ asking price turned out to be far too rich for Schlenk’s blood, but he may have a chance to land Simmons for a lesser price this offseason.

The troubled star never played a game for the Nets, and it’s certainly possible the three-time All-Star is moved again this offseason. Atlanta has the personnel and draft capital to facilitate a deal, and it could be an excellent opportunity for Schlenk to finally land a second All-Star to pair with Trae Young.

Simmons’ value is undoubtedly not as high as it was prior to the trade from Philly, but he’s still a great player. The 25-year-old has career averages of nearly 16 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 7.7 assists per game while being a Defensive Player of the Year-caliber defender. His game has obvious limitations, but if the Hawks were to land the 2019-20 version of Simmons, it’d make the team immensely better.

Simmons can be the initiator on offense while Trae Young‘s off the court. He can take away the opposing team’s biggest offensive threat while making the Hawks much more run-and-gun in transition. The former LSU Tiger is still one of the Association’s best perimeter defenders — an area of the game where the Hawks have struggled mightily. On paper, the fit is seamless.

There are obvious concerns, though. Simmons infamously melted down in the playoffs against the Hawks and hasn’t touched the court since. He’s literally unable to hit free throws in the playoffs and can’t be relied upon to take on any leadership position — something the Hawks desperately need. He also just underwent back surgery but is expected to be ready for next season’s training camp.

I don’t personally want a player like Simmons inside Atlanta’s locker room. With that being said, he would undoubtedly make the Hawks a better team.

Photographer: Stephen Lew/Icon Sportswire
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