The Philadelphia 76ers may be knee-deep in their preparations for the 2021-22 NBA season, but the Ben Simmons saga continues to dominate headlines. However, the push and pull between the three-time All-Star and the team that drafted him may just be moving toward an unexpected resolution.
In spite of the fact that he has been holding out in hopes of getting traded, it now appears as though Simmons may just return to the Sixers this season.
On Monday morning, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Sixers officials and Simmons’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, have been in talks to bring the former No. 1 overall pick “back to Philadelphia in the near future.” Per Woj, those discussions are ongoing.
Later, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Simmons could be back with the team as early as next week.
A Blockbuster Trade Is Still Very Much on the Table
Simmons potentially not playing this season could have big-time ramifications for both sides.
For their part, the Sixers risk wasting one of Joel Embiid’s prime years and a shot at an NBA title by not coming to some sort of resolution. Simmons, meanwhile, has fomented concerns about his commitment, as well as his perceived unwillingness to work on the further development of his offensive skill set.
As such, Simmons returning to the fold could benefit both parties. Even if he does eventually report to the team, though, a trade could still be in the works.
The plan remains for the Sixers to continue canvassing the league for trades, but the possibility of Simmons reporting to the team has increased in recent days, sources tell ESPN.
Either way, team president Daryl Morey and his brain trust seemingly prefer a scenario in which Simmons and the Sixers re-engage on their partnership:
The organization’s hopes are unchanged: Get Simmons back into Philadelphia, onto the court and ultimately convince him that it’s still the place for the long-term.
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Was Money a Factor in the Recent Sea Change?
When the word was that Simmons had no intention of reporting back to Philly — and that he was willing to sit out the entire season to facilitate a move if necessary — it seemed as though he had played his last game with the Sixers. So, given the latest development in the saga, one can’t help but wonder what changed in the situation.
Ultimately, the sea change may have come down to dollars and cents for Simmons.
As noted by Woj, Simmons will have already forfeited more than $1 million in salary once he misses Monday night’s exhibition bout with the Brooklyn Nets. And PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck reported on October 5 that the financial significance of his holdout had begun to resonate with Simmons in a major way:
After being fined for missing Philadelphia’s preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night — a penalty of roughly $360,000 — Simmons’ representation had another discussion with the players association in which it was reiterated they would be unable to recoup the money being deducted from the $8.25 million sitting in escrow.
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