Brian Windhorst: Pacers a 'Sleeper Team' in Ben Simmons Trade Sweepstakes

Matt Slocum/Associated Press
Ben Simmons is still with the Philadelphia 76ers. However, the relationship seems to be irreparable and the team may need to trade the star point guard. He refused to attend training camp because of his inability to pay.

USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reported that the 76ers are seeking trade partners. ESPN's Brian Windhorst, however, said that the Indiana Pacers could emerge as a contender on Friday's ESPN's The Jump (2:30).

Simmons, 25, has been at odds since June's loss to the Atlanta Hawks in Eastern Conference Semifinals. Simmons averaged 9.9 points per game during that series and didn't attempt any shots in Game 7.

Windhorst acknowledged that Simmons has been linked to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers, but he also noted that the Pacers have certain advantages, such as control over their first-round picks. Windhorst said that he believes the Pacers can offer a better offer than most teams.

Simmons's long-running shooting problems and tensions with Philadelphia are still a problem. Simmons is a three-time All Star and a great facilitator (7.7 assists a game). He was also named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team in each of his two previous seasons. He could form a strong partnership with Pacers big man Domantas Sabonis, who averaged 20.3 points per contest last year and made his second All Star appearance.

Simmons has four years remaining on his contract, so the Sixers won't need to rush to trade him. Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report reported that Simmons has been absent from training camp and the team is withholding 25 percent of Simmons salary. This amounts to $8.3 million.

This move may help the Sixers ease financial pressure and give them some breathing space as they search for the perfect trade. The Sixers have a chance to make peace with Simmons. Center Joel Embiid stated that he would like to continue playing with Simmons and told reporters Monday, "I really wish he changes his mind."