In yet another chapter in the drama-filled saga that has become the relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, Ben Simmons has now apparently made it clear to Sixers management that he is done playing for the team and will not be reporting to training camp according to ESPN.
The report comes after months of turmoil and conflicting reports about both the deteriorating dynamic of Simmons’ relationship with the Sixers front office and rumors about where Simmons, a five-time All-Star, could be headed in a trade. The 76ers began actively shopping Simmons after a playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks in which he averaged under ten points per game and shot just 33 percent from the free-throw line. There were several memorable moments throughout the series that made it clear for all to see that Simmons was not cut out for a point guard role on a championship-caliber team. There was, of course, the Hack-a-Simmons strategy that Hawks coach Nate McMillan employed in the series, which was an embarrassing free-throw performance for somebody considered to be a perimeter player. Additionally, he made one of the most puzzling decisions ever caught on camera in the NBA when he passed up a wide-open dunk, down by two, with three minutes left in the game. The mistake was so egregious that even the play-by-play announcer could not help but say “oh it was right there!”
Simmons’ poor showing in the series against the 76ers was disappointing both in terms of his lack of utility, but also because he seemingly cowered when faced with adversity. If you are going to be a max contract player, you cannot be taking 14 combined shots in the last three games of a playoff series. While Simmons is immensely talented and arguably the most versatile defensive player in the NBA, any attempt by NBA teams to acquire Simmons comes with a self-evident buyer beware warning about his mental fortitude.
With four years and $147 million left on his contract and his abysmal showing against the Hawks still in recent memory, it may be hard for Philadelphia to find a trade partner willing to give up a package equal to Simmons’ real monetary value. It is a steep asking price to pay for a player who has still not added a jump shot to his repertoire after five years in the NBA and is clearly deluded about his capabilities to be a point guard. After finishing 1st in the Eastern Conference during the regular season and seeing Joel Embiid prove himself as a legitimate MVP candidate, Philly’s title window is open now, and they do not necessarily have time to wait around for the perfect trade to reveal itself or for Simmons to round out such a huge deficiency in his game.
With the Warriors recently removing themselves from the Simmons trade talks, it is hard to imagine a lot of different places that Simmons could go at this point. The Kings have been discussed as an option, but it is doubtful that Sacramento would want to give up De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton, who would both likely be part of the discussion. Unless something changes drastically about the situation, or Simmons’ value begins to rebound as the series against the Hawks fades into memory, he could be sitting out of NBA games for the foreseeable future and leaving a lot of money on the table.
All stats courtesy of ESPN and Basketball Reference
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