NBA trade rumors: Hawks fans should 'keep an eye' on Ben Simmons

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Might Simmons get traded before he plays with Nets? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Ben Simmons underwent back surgery last week and is expected to recover fully before training camp starts ahead of the 2022-23 season, a good sign for Nets fans eager for their third star and for Sixers fans ready to see what Simmons will look like after this insanely long layoff.

But what about... Hawks fans?

Wait a minute.

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Simmons hasn't played a single regulation minute for the Nets, but Hawks beat writer Chris Kirshner wrote in a mailbag at The Athletic this week that he would keep an eye on Simmons this offseason if he were an Atlanta fan as the Hawks explore trade possibilities to upgrade before next year.

Here's Kirshner:

"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."

Jeez. Can you imagine?

If Simmons gets traded from Brooklyn without even setting foot on the court during a game... my mind would be boggled. You don't get much more enigmatic than taking an entire year off for a combination of muddled trade demands, mental health issues, and back problems - and yet this might do it.

These rumblings come from Kirshner being asked about whether either Utah Jazz star - Donovan Mitchell or Rudy Gobert - could be an answer for the Hawks, who after a miracle run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season came up woefully short this year. It's pretty clear the Hawks' roster needs retooling as they look to build a contender around Trae Young; I'm not entirely sure Simmons is the answer there, even if his price would be lower than it was six months ago.

Young has shown himself to be a fairly ball-dominant guard, someone who doesn't really thrive off-ball. Just 5.6% of his shots last year were catch-and-shoot, while 47.3% (!) of his shots came after seven or more dribbles.

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Simmons is of course particularly useless without the ball in his hands (reminder: he can't shoot) in the half-court, which presents a serious problem for a team building for playoff success.

Because of his limitations, I don't know who Simmons actually is a good fit for. But him being traded to the team that started his year of chaos, without playing for the team he was initially traded to, sure would be something!

We'll see.