When the Philadelphia 76ers begin to gain momentum in the All-Star goalkeeper’s trade talks Ben Simmons, the Portland Trail Blazers have reiterated that one of the Sixers’ goals – every NBA guard Damian Lillard — Not available for discussion, sources told ESPN.
The Sixers and Blazers have been plugged in in recent days and Portland interim general manager Joe Cronin has made it clear to Philadelphia that the franchise still plans to continue building around Lillard, sources said.
However, the Sixers are becoming more involved on multiple fronts in conversations centered on Simmons. Sources said Philadelphia has been aggressively trying to put together two-team and three-team deal structures to get a package that would include the top 25 level player.
Much of the increased momentum was concentrated on Wednesday, when several players became registered off-season as free agents eligible to trade. Starting December 15, 84% of the 446 contract players can be included in the deals. Currently, 65% of league players are eligible.
The Sixers have long been targeting Lillard, who confirmed his desire to stay in Portland at the start of the team’s training camp. Following the recent dismissal of chief basketball operations Neil Olshei, Cronin has said publicly and privately that the franchise plans to continue building around Lillard. The Blazers have been open to discussing the Simmons deal focusing on guard CJ McCollumBut the sources said that this talk did not gain any momentum.
Simmons has yet to play for Philadelphia this season, saying he was treating his mental health before returning to the team. He made a commercial request after the Sixers lost to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks contributed to this report.
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