The Philadelphia 76ers have officially begun preparations for the 2021-22 NBA season and, as expected, Ben Simmons is a no-show at training camp. While little has changed about the months-long standstill between player and team, some new information regarding Simmons’ motivation for seeking a trade is trickling out in the wake of the team’s September 27 media day.
According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, Simmons’ trade request isn’t just about the discord between himself and the organization or its fans. In his eyes, there’s also a major on-court issue in play.
Specifically, Simmons reportedly believes that his pairing with fellow Philly star Joel Embiid has gone as far as it can. Per Amick, Simmons is of the belief that he needs a running mate whose skill set is more complementary of his own.
“People who have intimate knowledge of how he sees this situation continue to insist that he’s done playing with Embiid,” reported Amick. Meanwhile, one source was quoted as saying the partnership “has run its course.’
It’s Not Personal
Embiid made waves following the Sixers’ playoff elimination by pinpointing Simmons’ reluctance to shoot during crunch time of Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks as the “turning point” in the loss. Nevertheless, Amick has indicated that Simmons’ maneuvering isn’t motivated by any beef.
There’s nothing personal about this choice, it seems, but the 25-year-old Simmons has clearly decided that his career is better off without Embiid blocking the runways in the paint that he so badly needs to succeed.
Given Embiid’s dominance down low and Simmons’ own reliance on close-range offense and transition opportunities, there is actually some logic to be found there. However, one could also argue that both players have been pretty successful as a direct result of their partnership.
Last season, the two-man lineup combination of Embiid and Simmons boasted a net rating of 15.5. The tandem was dominant on both sides of the ball, too; the Sixers put up 118.2 points per 100 possessions when Embiid and Simmons shared the hardwood while conceding just under 103.
The number that matters most is this, though — Philly was 35-7 in games that both of their stars played. That’s a 68-win pace.
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Simmons Just Wants to Move on
As noted by Amick, the Sixers presented the same kind of statistics seen above to Simmons and his agent at a meeting. And while the math checks out, it did little to sway the three-time All-Star and former No. 1 overall pick from wanting to move on.
“His view, his uneasy feelings about the problematic fit remained unchanged,” Amick wrote.
So now, all concerned parties are left to wait. Do the Sixers and team president Daryl Morey decide they need to pull the trigger on a deal for something less than one of the eight to 10 or so players they covet in order to keep themselves in the championship mix? Or does Simmons come to the conclusion that his current course of action isn’t actually helping him further his career?
Time will tell.
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