Portland Trail Blazers Guard Anfernee Simons has become a blocker during Portland’s under . 500 performance this season. Fans argue about his attributes, approach and suitability. With the year 2023 NBA trade deadline In approaching, Simons’ name appeared locally in commercial suggestions. Today’s Blazer Edge Mailbag covers the concerns of one reader who fears the Blazers won’t.
I read and listened intently Chris Hines spoke about the ant being untouchable. I think he’s very tangible and in fact I worry the only thing that might make him untouchable is his salary now. He doesn’t play defense and is the lone scorer at a time when there are already a lot of them. I think either Chris or management has a loophole. Tell me your screws are narrower, please. Am i right?
You are honest. thats good!
Simmons is averaging 23 points, for an all-time leading scorer of 22, and holds average percentage points. In years past, he was a super competent three-point threat, so mediocre looks bad by comparison. But perspective: When your bad is the average of everyone else, you’re not so bad.
Simmons is set to earn between $22.3 million this year and $27.7 million in 2025-26, with increases in between that bring the average contract to $25 million annually. If this were 2016, it might cause sticker shock. But for this generation of NBA starting guards, especially point producers, this deal may end up being a little low-key. Simons may not be the perfect fit for the team on the ground at the moment, but his contract is a decent size.
It’s also important to know that the “appropriate” question goes both ways. The Blazers need a better defender at two guards than Simons is right now. They also need the three-point percentage to go up again. But why do they need these things? Because Damian Lillard would thrive with that kind of partner. Lillard isn’t quite suffering, but ideally, Portland would be better defensively and make enough triples to take the pressure off their superstar, fair enough.
But let’s pretend for a moment that Lillard isn’t in the backcourt. Simons is paired with a random NBA average guard. Do you like ants better now? Odds are, you will. His scoring ability will be a huge asset, essential for any team to succeed in this NBA era. We were talking about the potential of the gaming industry and extending the floor. We’ve been remembering him winning the 2021 All-Star Slam Dunk Contest and promoting his athleticism. We thought this was just the beginning, and the Blazers got a steal, acquired Simons for a low first coach and kept him on a reasonable contract. We’d gloat that the 27-year-old Ant would have grown up instead of complaining about the 23-year-old version he’s now.
This is, in part, the reason for the Blazers [evidently] I feel like they do. For them, Simmons is not an easily replaceable commodity. This is true even now, not to mention his entry into his fame.
What if Lillard didn’t make it? What if age or injuries hit him? What if he wanted to leave, even though he swore it would never happen?
This team has a brilliant streak running down the middle between Lillard and everyone else, or at least between Lillard and a couple of veterans versus the rest of the team. On one side of that line stands the “Win Now” crew. They are few in number, but Lillard makes them the heaviest of his presence. Remove this presence and the precious little weight remains.
The other side of the line, the development staff, led by Simmons. If “win now” doesn’t work for any reason, Simons is the fulcrum of the future. This does not mean that he is the most talented player. This may turn out to be Shaedon Sharpe for all we know. This does not mean that he is the most accomplished player. Jerami Grant seems to be stepping into the role. But removing Simons, leaving just Grant and Sharpe, leaves a huge gap and a host of speculation. Where’s the mixed-skill guard who can hit threes and score dribbles but still set up his teammates?
After being flooded over the past few years, Blazers fans have forgotten what it’s like to be without that kind of player. How many years did Portland burn draft picks on point guards? How many veterans and ranger groups have they tried? That era wasn’t pretty, despite much of it being spent with Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.
Simmons is off ramp on New Portland Highway. Without it, this exit would be much tighter. If the Blazers drop that possibility, they need to widen the highway they’re taking and ensure it leads directly to contention. If Simons’ deal didn’t do that, they wouldn’t pursue it.
You’re absolutely right that this doesn’t fix the 2022-23 season one bit. But the current frustration does not mitigate the need for future planning. Stopping pain is a bad reason to trade in professional sports.
Right now, the Blazers don’t have much to cry about, except for… oops! There are too many Rangers who haven’t met each other yet. If they can parlay that talent surplus into a more viable roster while keeping finances in check, I bet they go for it. Right now, Simmons being “untouchable” doesn’t suggest he’ll be the be all and end all Rangers, but they don’t see the way forward opening up with any deal that includes him now. It is more valuable to their future than what trade may bring in the present.
This is a smart and fair position to take. Until Mr. Championship comes available to Simons’ package, I don’t expect they’ll move on from it.
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