The Ben Simmons trade situation took a step towards the next-level when he reportedly requested a trade.
While few if any believed Ben Simmons wanted to return to Philadelphia, he and his agency, Klutch, at least appeared to be doing the Sixers “the courtesy” of not making a formal request. It made sense at the time. They knew that the Sixers would want to sell the idea they might actually “run it back” regardless of their ultimate goals, in order to maintain leverage while talking with other teams.
For Simmons, it seemed there was an incentive to not ask for a trade with four years remaining on a max contract, following a second-round where he played well below his own standards. As for Klutch, it seemed they too would have preferred a quiet breakup, that way they could perhaps dodge the reputation as The Trade Forcing Agency.
Now maybe the Sixers were given a private deadline months ago — who knows. Maybe Rich Paul, Simmons’ agent, started to read the tea leaves and determined that the Sixers intended to wait through the New Year to see what happens on the Damian Lillard front; Dame has yet to request a trade from Portland, but many insiders believe it’s just a matter of time until he does.
So Simmons’ camp finally, formally asked for a trade. They simultaneously pulled the “threaten to hold out” card. The remaining card would be to actually hold out.
“I think one of the key factors that will be going through Daryl’s mind as he tries to figure out the best way forward is trying to read the personality of the player that he’s dealing with. We all focus on Rich Paul’s role in this, and how he’s acted in previous, similar circumstances, which is fair. But he doesn’t have quite the same leverage with Ben Simmons, who still has four years left on his deal, as he did with a bonafide superstar in Anthony Davis. Perhaps more importantly, though, is that I don’t think Ben Simmons has the personality to come into camp and follow the full “Jimmy Butler derails a season” playbook.
I think that gives Morey some confidence that he can call Simmons’ bluff on whether or not he will actually go through with it and hold out of training camp, something we still don’t see happen all too frequently in the NBA. Even if Simmons does hold out, I don’t think it craters his trade value to quite the same degree as it did with Butler, who was months away from free agency, rather than four years away.
What happened this past week is essentially a public threat of future uncomfortableness, and I’d be surprised if Morey blinked too early on here in the process.”
While the Sixers’ brass may not be surprised, recent events certainly don’t help their negotiating stance. And that’s bad for fans ultimately hoping for the best return possible in any potential trade.
(Sometimes I wonder if Daryl Morey feels a little bit like he’s watching his old Rockets team go 0-27 from three in a Game 7...but in Philly and in slow motion... ever since they built up a 26-point lead at home two months ago; almost nothing major has worked out the way he’d have liked, except perhaps Joel Embiid’s knee rehab-knock wood).
Per The Athletic’s John Krawczynski from the same piece clipped above:
“I think there is a good chance [Simmons] is still on the roster when camp tips off. If there is any front office leader who is willing to let things get uncomfortable and minimize the personality conflicts that might be involved here, it is Morey.”
The idea of a player, fresh off of a humiliating playoff series, holding out with four years remaining on his deal and eating an indefinite slew of fines without a trade, seems kind of wild. Would management step in and force Morey’s hand? Would they dig in themselves and say we will not be bullied by Klutch? Would Simmons be willing to hold out through the trade deadline?
I reached out to Kyle Newman of OddsChecker for the latest betting odds. I was legitimately surprised at the shift that occurred since mid August, and following the Keith Pompey piece about Ben wanting out:
Prior odds, as of August 16th:
Golden State +300
Newest odds, as of September 2nd:
Golden State +300
San Antonio +800
“Considering odds have gone backward for teams hoping to trade for Ben Simmons, it seems more likely than ever he’ll end up staying in Philadelphia. The possibility of a trade still remains on the table, but oddsmakers clearly see the likelihood of a trade dwindling. The only favorite that hasn’t seen their odds drop is the Golden State Warriors, who remained at +300, or a 25% chance to make a deal. It’s clear oddsmakers don’t see the Simmons market as one that’s very strong.”
This doesn’t seem to add up with all we’re hearing about this, does it? Are all of the sports bettors playing the contrarian here? It would appear gamblers are saying “we don’t see the formal trade request as that much of a needle-mover here.”
Is it possible that Morey and the Sixers now have to demonstrate a willingness to head into the season dealing with a holdout to remind low-balling teams there’s no discernible difference in Simmons’ value as a player here? Or something. Grasping at straws, admittedly.
I wonder if Simmons is actually hellbent on holding out or if it’s just a threat. I wonder if he is open to holding out, but possesses a “list of demands” that might be met which could change his mind.
Yes, I want out, but if you won’t trade me right away, I’d at least like [insert anything from new role to new coach to new private locker room inside the stadium].
Joel Embiid may have tried to put up a good front and suggested he would like to play with Simmons yesterday:
Sources “Trust me bro”!! Stop using my name to push people’s agendas. I love and hate drama. I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie. He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back cuz we know we’re good enough to win https://t.co/1kq9VI9byE— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 1, 2021
He even joined Danny Green in asking Sixers fans to be more supportive:
I haven’t forgotten but 2 years ago, I got booed, people in Philly wanted me to be traded. I even shushed them. Only the real ones didn’t but I just put the work in that offseason to be better cuz I knew I wasn’t playing up to my potential. Philly fans, y’all also gotta be better— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 1, 2021
But then Embiid also joined Green in going too far, undercutting his own remarks. Here, the last line about “not everyone is built like that,” probably doesn’t help Joel accomplish whatever he’d originally intended.
For clarity, I love the criticism, I love when I’m told I can’t do something. It makes me work harder to prove everyone wrong but not everyone is built like that.— Joel “Troel” Embiid (@JoelEmbiid) September 1, 2021
If Embiid wanted to make Daryl Morey’s life a little easier while he’s wheeling and dealing, he probably would have skipped that last line. And Danny Green might opt to dodge some of those “in the event Ben is traded” hypotheticals Howard Beck lobs him.
There will certainly not be any Kumbaya here. It’s difficult to imagine Simmons wanting to be back and it’s difficult to imagine the players welcoming him with open arms. And all of this makes Morey’s job more difficult, no matter how iron his gut.
If only we could rewind back to halftime of Game 5 against the Hawks. There might have been 1,000 ways they might have pulled that game out and everything would probably be different today.