The Philadelphia 76ers and their franchise point guard, Ben Simmons, are officially at a crossroads. Just one year into the massive five-year, $177 million extension that Simmons signed in the summer of 2019, the Sixers may already be having buyer’s remorse.
After helping Philly to the best record in the Eastern Conference in 2020-21 during the regular season, Simmons was a disaster during the NBA playoffs. The 24-year-old connected on just 34.2% of his free throws and was a complete non-threat offensively as the Sixers’ second-round series with the Atlanta Hawks ended with a shocking Game 7 defeat.
Now, team president Daryl Morey and his brain trust are faced with a dilemma — continue on with Simmons and hope he can improve as a shooter or make a hard pivot in a new direction. Whichever road they choose, maximizing Joel Embiid’s prime by surrounding him with the best teammates possible is imperative.
Meanwhile, Simmons has a choice to make, too.
Does he recommit himself to the Sixers organization and spend the offseason (and the rest of his career, really) working to diversify his game? Or, would he be better served by a fresh start with a new team that values his skillset or can more capably address his shortfalls as a player?
According to a report, that is exactly what the two sides are discussing right now.
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Woj: Discussions About Simmons’ Sixers Future Are Ongoing
As relayed by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski on Thursday, discussions on the Sixers floor general’s future with the franchise started in Chicago this week. Those discussions are said to include Simmons’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, as well as members of Philly’s front office.
Decision-makers and agents from around the Association are currently assembled in the city for the NBA Draft Combine.
Per Wojnarowski’s sources, Paul has met with Morey, as well as Sixers general manager Elton Brand, in an effort to evaluate the next steps in his client’s career with the team. The superstar agent reportedly broached the subject of a potential trade.
However, no trade request has been made as of this time, according to Woj. Moreover, the Sixers are believed to be committed to keeping Simmons as a “central piece of their franchise.”
“Teams have been using the Chicago pre-draft camp to gauge the Sixers’ interest in trade packages, sources said, although Philadelphia remains reluctant to break up the tandem of Joel Embiid and Simmons without maximizing a return and exhausting all possibilities to improve Simmons’ offense, sources said.”
Pippen: Simmons Afraid of Being “Humiliated”
Pundits, prognosticators and players past and present are all weighing in on the Simmons situation. In a June 24 interview with GQ, six-time NBA champion and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen became the latest to do.
According to the Chicago Bulls legend, Simmons’ hesitancy to shoot the ball as the Hawks series wore on is easily explainable. Simply put, Pippen believes that Simmons can’t shoot and didn’t want to look bad while attempting to do so.
“You guys have been looking at Ben Simmons for five years now? And you can say this to Stephen A. Smith, too: Y’all know he can’t shoot. Y’all know he don’t look to shoot in the fourth quarter. You know he’s afraid to go to the foul line, he don’t wanna be humiliated, so what are you asking me? I’m not against Ben Simmons. But I think he is who he is.”
He further opined that Sixers coach Doc Rivers set Simmons up to fail by leaving him in during the fourth quarters of games.