It’s all but official — Ben Simmons has played his last game in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform. That reality has seemed likely since his dreadful offensive showing in the team’s second-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks, but was basically cemented with yesterday’s public trade request and the news that he would not be reporting to Sixers training camp.
First off, I have no trouble with a trade request being made. As stated above, it’s no secret that Simmons and the Sixers seemed destined to part ways this summer. You could spin things (in somewhat good faith) as Simmons and his camp having given Morey and the front office time to make a deal on the team’s own terms, but now that we’re a month away from training camp, it’s time to hit the accelerator button and get something done.
However, here’s the kind of stuff that really grinds my gears (below quotes are from Keith Pompey’s Inquirer article linked above):
“One source said, however, that the Sixers’ inability to get fair market value isn’t Simmons’ fault.”
“A source believes the devaluing of Simmons began with Rivers’ comments following the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals on June 20.”
“The source believes it will be tough for Simmons to have a working relationship with the team moving forward. At the same time, the team isn’t trying to let its multifaceted player go for little in return.”
The source (let’s call him Mitch Wall), is clearly doing everything possible to make excuses for Ben and shift the narrative to blaming the team for this situation. You hear similar things on television, as I can only assume Chris Broussard had just gotten off the phone with our pal, Mitch Wall.
Ben Simmons wanted to be a point guard, so the Sixers made him a point guard — never mind the fact that it’s typically useful to have your point guard be willing to shoot jump shots. They wanted him to get together with their own hand-picked shooting coach to work on his shot — he went off with his brother instead. After Simmons made his second career 3-pointer against Cleveland, former head coach Brett Brown publicly stated he wanted Ben to attempt at least one 3 per game — instead, Simmons went back to not shooting without a care in the world. Current head coach Doc Rivers went out of his way all last season to act as if media members who asked about Ben’s shooting didn’t know basketball because they weren’t only acknowledging the positive things he brought to the table. The fans were down on Ben? Anytime he simply made both free throws, they cheered him on like he had just hit a game-winning shot.
Ben Simmons shot 34.2 percent (25-of-73) from the foul line in the playoffs. The man making $30 million (and who has shown he’s capable of scoring 42 points in a game before) then attempted four, six, and four field goals over the final three games as his team was being eliminated from the playoffs. So forgive his coach and star teammate for momentarily not treating him with kid gloves in the wake of a crushing Game 7 defeat.
Part of me wants Daryl Morey to let this play out. Even if Ben sat out camp and, eventually, games, teams know what he does and does not bring to the table. It’s not like his trade value could drop any lower. Let’s now circle back to Rich Paul, though, who in addition to Simmons, also represents second-year guard Tyrese Maxey.
The Maxey angle throws a wrench in the idea of slow playing the Simmons situation. No matter what, the Sixers don’t want Paul whispering poison in Tyrese’s ear and steering him out of town as well.
Now, there has been absolutely zero bad blood in the Maxey-Sixers relationship. Maxey received substantial playoff time as a rookie selected in the twenties, and the fan base has welcomed him with open arms as a favored son. However, recall the background in the Nerlens Noel lawsuit about Paul not informing Noel that the team was interested in bringing him back. Add in what has been a rocky summer on the Simmons front, and there’s enough smoke to assume the relationship between Klutch and the Philadelphia 76ers is fairly toxic.
Morey is certainly in an extremely tough position, and has now been put on the clock in terms of finding an acceptable return package for Simmons. But while there’s accountability to be had to some degree on all sides, don’t let Ben and his camp play the victim.