While fans of the Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, and basketball in general were all likely frustrated with the amount of time last night’s TNT broadcast discussed Ben Simmons, there was one notable item to emerge on the whole situation, courtesy of Kristen Ledlow:
On broadcast just now, @KristenLedlow just said feedback from people she talked to within Sixers is split on Simmons approach. One, she said, believes they should welcome him back and he makes them better.— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) November 17, 2021
"Another tells me, 'We got to cut the cord and move forward.'"
Until now, the company line in regards to Simmons has been that they will look around for a trade, but if nothing appears available in line with his value as a three-time All-Star and Defensive Player of the Year runner-up, then the organization wants him on the court playing for the team. Ledlow’s report is the first publicly-shared disagreement within the Sixers organization as to how to approach the former first overall pick’s trade demand.
Presumably, President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey would fall in the “welcome him back” camp. He has been adamant about only trading Simmons for a commensurate return, and said a few weeks ago that the situation “could take four years” to resolve.
We can only speculate as to who is Team “Cut the Cord” within the organization. One guess might be Head Coach Doc Rivers. By the very nature of the job, head coaches are generally more present-thinking than those in the front office. Doc is the one having to deal with essentially an eight-man rotation with the team currently struck down by COVID and injuries and in the midst of a five-game losing streak. With every Furkan Korkmaz 2-of-18 or 2-of-12 shooting performance, or a night when Shake Milton is forced to play 42 minutes, I’m sure it runs through Doc’s mind how nice it would be to have someone like Buddy Hield or Patrick Beverley on the roster, stars though they are not. Plus, Doc is the one who had to throw Simmons out of a practice and is tasked with the awkwardness of a player who clearly doesn’t want to be there running through drills or standing in the back of a film session.
It could also be ownership that wants Simmons moved, return value be darned. I’m sure Josh Harris and co. are not pleased that when he’s not being fined, Ben is getting paid big bucks by the organization to mostly be a Call of Duty player. While they’re willing to dip into the luxury tax to put a competitive team on the floor, I would imagine they’re more inclined to do so for players actually wanting to play for the franchise, rather than Simmo the Savage.
Everything surrounding Ben Simmons right now undoubtedly makes for a complicated situation. We’ve been debating how the team should approach things in the public forum for months, so it’s not surprising that those within the organization are similarly conflicted. However, maybe this report getting publicized means the Sixers are a bit more aggravated with things and ready to move on than they had been previously. I have no doubt more frustrating reports and public back-and-forth will be forthcoming in the weeks to follow.