Ben Simmons’ future with the Philadelphia 76ers has been in doubt ever since the team reportedly put him on the trading block in June. However, after Philly failed in its efforts to find a suitable compensation package for the former No. 1 overall pick, Simmons’ return to the Sixers next season was seemingly sealed.
On Tuesday, however, a bombshell report once again threw Simmons’ standing with the Sixers into doubt.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey, Simmons has informed the Sixers that he no longer wants to be part of the organization. Moreover, he has reportedly said that he does not intend to report to training camp when it opens next month.
“In a meeting with the 76ers last week in Los Angeles, Simmons told team co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers that he no longer wants to remain a Sixer, according to multiple sources,” Pompey wrote.
“Sources said the three-time All-Star also does not intend to report to training camp.”
After a Tough Playoff Run, Simmons Was Thrown Under the Bus
His warts notwithstanding, Simmons had an incredible season for the Sixers in ’20-21, finishing second in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting. So, the idea that he would be back in 2021-22 was hardly a bad thing for the team. Clearly, though, Simmons had other feelings on the matter. And who can blame him, really?
Although the Sixers expressed confidence in Simmons’ ability to correct lingering issues with his game throughout the offseason, that wasn’t the case in the immedaite aftermath of Philly’s playoff ouster.
After his free throw woes and confidence issues contributed directly to their Game 7 playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks, Sixers big man Joel Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers failed spectacularly in standing by their floor general.
“I mean, I’ll be honest,” Embiid said, via The Athletic’s Rich Hoffmann. “I thought the turning point was when we — I don’t know how to say it — but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored.”
Embiid was referring to a play down the stretch when Simmons balked at taking the ball to the basket. Rivers’ statements about his point guard may have been even more damning, though. When asked whether Simmons could lead a championship-caliber team, Rivers failed to offer any kind of endorsement.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said, via Marc Stein.
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Simmons Is Still an Elite Player
A deal for Damian Lillard may or may not be in the cards — Simmons’ value is arguably as low as it has been in years — but the Sixers point guard’s status as a superstar should not be in doubt. Despite his shortcomings, his team was exponentially better when he was on the floor.
Philly outscored opponents by 8.0 points per 100 possessions when Simmons was on the court last season, compared to just 2.6/100 poss. when he sat. And while his raw, individual numbers dipped in some categories, he was still the only player in the entire NBA to average at least 14 points, seven rebounds, six assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Sixers president Daryl Morey has been right to ask for a substantial return in trade talks. However, Simmons also has an understanding of his own value. So, if Philly thought it prudent to shop him in spite of his significant contributions to the team’s success in recent years, it stands to reason that he would be looking for a change of scenery at this juncture.
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