The friction between Brooklyn Nets star Ben Simmons and his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, may have started after a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the 2021 playoffs. Simmons passed up a wide-open layup on a pivotal possession in the 4th quarter, which ultimately decided the game.
In the postgame interview, Sixers star Joel Embiid seemed to call Simmons out when asked about the game’s turning point, replying, “We had an open shot, and we made one free throw.”
That moment was the turning point of a saga that lasted months between the Sixers and Simmons, which ultimately ended up with him getting traded to the Nets in exchange for James Harden. In his latest interview, Sixers general manager Daryl Morey seemingly is questioning Simmons’ ability to manage playing in a city like Philadelphia.
“I’d say the biggest surprise are the players who can’t play here. It’s actually not helpful to me,” Morey said to John Clark on “The Takeoff” Podcast.
“The more options I have, the better. But I do think I’m starting to learn, and I do love it about Philadelphia, ‘because I do think it gets the best out of our team. And I’ve seen it with not only our team, the Eagles, and the Phillies.”
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Daryl Morey Gets Honest on Playing in Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia is known for having one of the more passionate fanbases when it comes to sports. And their passion is not just limited to players on the opposing team.
If one of their own isn’t living up to the city’s standards, the fans will let them know about it as well. They did it just last year when the Sixers got blown out by the Nets on their own floor. Morey admits that playing in Philadelphia is ‘different’ than in other big market cities.
“And I never understood this, being in Houston when people would say, ‘Oh, you need to have a special mindset to play in Philly. You need to have a special mindset to play in, maybe, New York.’ Although I think that’s less true,” Morey continued.
“Honestly, I can only speak to Philadelphia because I’ve been here now. I do think, I really do pay attention to the mindset of the players. Can they handle playing in Philadelphia? Because I do think it’s a different thing.”
Sixers, Simmons Reach $20 Million Settlement
The Game 7 that started the friction between Simmons and the Sixers was the last game he played in a Sixers uniform. He chose to sit out before being traded to the Nets on February 10.
As a result, the Sixers did not pay Simmons for the time he sat out, which caused him to lose nearly $20 million of his 2021-22 salary. He filed a grievance to recoup those funds in April.
However, in a surprising turn of events, the Sixers elected to settle for an undisclosed amount with the newly acquired Nets star on August 15, per ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski.
“Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Ben Simmons and his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, reached a settlement agreement on the grievance Simmons filed to recoup a portion of the nearly $20 million withheld from him as a result of his failure to play games in the 2021-22 season, sources told ESPN on Monday,” Wojnarowski said.
All eyes will be on Simmons to see how he performs for the Nets, as he has not played an NBA game in over a year. For the Brooklyn’s sake he’ll need to rise to the occasion.