By Tom Ignudo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia 76ers have had a difficult time trying to deal All-Star guard Ben Simmons, but a new report could change that. On Monday, The Athletic reported that Portland Trail Blazers superstar guard Damian Lillard would like to play with Simmons following the team firing general manager Neil Olshey.

Here’s part of the story from The Athletic: 

“Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Trail Blazers’ league-worst defense would instantly improve, and sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter could work given Lillard’s high-volume usage.”

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Portland’s defense would certainly see improvement with Simmons in the lineup. They currently have one of the league’s worst defenses — a problem that has existed throughout Lillard’s tenure as a Trail Blazer.

The Athletic notes the Sixers and Portland previously discussed a trade that would send CJ McCollum, a first-round pick, and a young player like Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia for Simmons.

But, according to The Athletic, the Sixers asked for McCollum, multiple draft picks, and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected. 

With Olshey out of the picture, maybe things change in Portland. Maybe whoever Portland hires feels pressured to trade for Simmons in order to keep Lillard happy.

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Of course, Sixers fans would much rather Lillard ask out of Portland and be dealt to Philadelphia, but the market for Simmons hasn’t been there yet.

Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers brings the ball down the court against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center on January 22, 2018 in Denver, Colorado.

Damian Lillard (Photo Credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

A package that includes McCollum, a first-round pick, and Little or Simons is a solid offer for Simmons, even though it’s not the big splash president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and company have coveted throughout this saga.

McCollum is averaging 20.6 points per game and shooting 39.3% on 3-pointers this season. He would give the Sixers a much-needed component they need on offense — someone who can create their own shot and get a bucket late in games. Simons or Little could potentially be solid pieces off the bench.

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Sixers fans, just as they have for months now, will be keeping a very close eye on the Simmons, Lillard situations, and maybe this time it will finally end with the Australian native finally getting shipped out of Philadelphia.