Caris LeVert brought up in Ben Simmons talks, per report


Intriguing young Pacers scorer brought up in Simmons trade talks: report originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Indiana Pacers are suddenly the team everyone is buzzing about as the Summer of Ben Simmons drags on into October.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst called the Pacers a “sleeper” team to deal for Simmons last week, and on Tuesday SNY’s NBA insider Ian Begley reported he’s heard from sources close to the situation that the Pacers and Sixers have indeed been chatting about Simmons, and an interesting name came up during the discussions:

“League sources confirm that the Pacers are among the teams who have talked to the Philadelphia 76ers about a potential Simmons trade. Caris LeVert was among the players brought up in those communications, per SNY sources.

“It is unknown if talks between Philadelphia and Indiana have progressed beyond run-of-the-mill contact.”

This isn’t exactly a surprising report, considering the makeup of Indiana’s team and its lack of bona fide All-Star talent, and it’s also notable that Begley isn’t 100% certain whether the talks between the two sides are deep talks or simply keeping in contact with exploratory-level chatter.

However!

It’s fascinating to see the Pacers turn from a dust cloud on the periphery of the Simmons trade scene to a player in the eye of the storm. They were frequently mentioned as a possible suitor throughout the summer, but were never considered top-tier contenders for Simmons the way the Timberwolves, Cavaliers, or Blazers were.

But where there’s smoke, there is often (not always!) fire, so I’m paying close attention to the Indiana buzz.

As far as LeVert is concerned, I would happily take him back in a deal. He’s a 27-year-old bucket-getter, the kind of confident slashing guard who gets his own offense that the Sixers don’t really have on the roster.

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LeVert’s three-point shooting is kind of a bummer, and slotting him into the starting lineup in place of a Seth Curry or a Danny Green would definitely hinder the Sixers’ spacing around Joel Embiid because of his limited range, but he would also bring an added element to that starting five with his ability off the dribble and close to the basket.

There’s also the question of health – LeVert was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back last week – though the Pacers reportedly believe it’s a minor injury.

I’d rather have Malcolm Brogdon, but if Indiana is reluctant to trade him, LeVert works.

LeVert only makes $17.5 million this year, so the trade would include more pieces. Maybe…

PHI RECEIVES: Caris LeVert, Damontis Sabonis, 2022 1st Round Pick (Top 3 protected)

IND RECEIVES: Ben Simmons, Shake Milton

It’s not perfect, but no trade is at this point. If I’m Daryl Morey, I’m thinking about taking that deal. You get defense and scoring, you get two players who come back next year – including Sabonis, who is under contract through 2024 – and you get draft capital. Again, not perfect… but not bad.

The Sixers open the regular season Oct. 20 at the Pelicans.

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