‘James Harden-Type Situation’: Insiders Tackle Sixers-Ben Simmons Trade

Ben Simmons Sixers

Getty Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons stands on the court before a 2019 game against the Phoenix Suns.

Training camps in the NBA may be opening up in a little over a month, but the Philadelphia 76ers have yet to resolve the Ben Simmons situation. After a disastrous playoff run, the three-time All-Star and former No. 1 overall pick was put on the trading block by Philly. However, team president Daryl Morey’s asking price is said to be incredibly high, so Simmons continues to be on the Sixers’ roster.

With so little time left before the start of the 2021-22 season, one can’t help but wonder whether Simmons and the Sixers are stuck with each other for the time being.

On Thursday, a panel of ESPN‘s NBA insiders — Royce Young, Kevin Pelton, Kirk Goldsberry, Nick Friedell and Andrew Lopez — assembled for a 5-on-5 set. Their mission: to tackle the biggest remaining questions ahead of training camp, and the Simmons/Sixers dynamic was at the top of their list.

Although they all stopped short of saying he absolutely would or wouldn’t be on Philly’s opening-night roster, there was a general sense that Simmons is likely staying put for now. However, there were definitely some dissenting feelings on the subject.


The Likely Camp


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For their parts, Friedell, Lopez and Goldsberry are currently leaning toward Simmons staying put. However, their respective levels of confidence in the continued partnership varied.

For Lopez, Simmons remaining a Sixer isn’t just likely, but “very likely at this point.” However, he can see some kind of move happening early in the season.

“There’s still a chance that Daryl Morey tries to work a deal once training camp starts, but he’s also going to try and get the most possible value for Simmons,” he wrote. “That could mean a James Harden-type situation in which he plays a few games before a deal gets made.”

Friedell believes Simmons starting the season with Philly is “more likely by the day,” but he also wonders how such an awkward situation will play out.

“Can you imagine how loud the ‘boos’ will be the first time he messes something up or looks hesitant at the line?” he wondered. “I understand not wanting to make a bad deal, but is it possible to fix his confidence when a portion of the fan base has already lost so much confidence in him?”

Meanwhile, Goldsberry went with likely and referenced Morey not wanting to “sell low” on his star floor general while other teams are hesitant to pay a premium.

“The rumored packages Philly is seeking are massive, and it’s unsurprising that they haven’t found a trade partner willing to part with multiple picks and young talent in exchange for a player with some big questions right now.”

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On Mounting Pressure to Deal & Unofficial Deadlines

Contrastingly, Pelton and Young see the looming start of the camp and the ’21-22 season putting the heat on Morey and his brain trust to make something happen.

“My anticipation is that as training camp draws closer, the Sixers will face more pressure to trade Simmons,” wrote Pelton.

Still, he ultimately indicated that Simmons being on the roster to start the campaign is “more likely than not,” and wondered about the Sixers’ willingness to part with him “before the situations with Bradley Beal and Damian Lillard are resolved.”

Finally, Young cited “conventional NBA wisdom” saying a Simmons return is “unlikely because media day and training camp set an unofficial deadline in these kinds of situations.”

“The pending awkwardness of opening up camp with a player you intend to trade creates urgency, both for the Sixers and for the opposing teams that have been low-balling offers to this point,” he added.

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