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Report: Sixers, Simmons still at stalemate, after Rich Paul meets with Morey, Brand

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We have an update...to remind us that there has been no recent progress made on the Sixers-Ben Simmons situation. While the Sixers find themselves at the epicenter of the NBA Trade Deadline rumorverse, President Daryl Morey and GM Elton Brand reportedly met with the Australian All-Star’s representation Rich Paul on Wednesday for lunch.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojarowski the team and player sides respective “stances are unchanged: Simmons no closer to playing this season - and Sixers determined to bring back a significant player in trade.”

Woj Added in a subsequent Tweet that “Sixers continue to want Simmons to return to the floor, but there’s no movement on that front.”

Whether the Sixers really expect Simmons to suit up for their team again this season (or ever) is less clear than the apparent fact that they would really prefer him to. In essence, that makes this update more of the non-update variety.

They want him to play or they want to trade him for an All-Star who isn’t available... yet. Simmons isn’t ready or able to play for them. Here we are weeks from an important date.

Still, that Woj felt compelled to share this gives it some weight. Maybe there was the slimmest of hopes on one side or the other for some type of shift. Maybe that not being the case, will now lead to something else. Is there a chance Morey and Brand might say “OK we tried, let’s give up and trade him, now” after the unproductive lunch? If so, would that have made it a productive lunch in a roundabout way? Rich Paul clearly hopes so.

Per Woj, in a follow up article:

Simmons, 25, is signed through the 2024-25 season — a five year, $177 million maximum contract — and continues to be subject to significant fines for games missed and absences from team functions.....

Some teams have even described the Sixers’ asking price for a Simmons’ deal as growing in price - not declining, sources told ESPN.”

What can we glean from this? Basically, the fact that both sides bothered to meet, and perhaps tried in good faith to find common ground, but left without momentum towards a compromise is significant, even if unsurprising.

As we dip below 30 days from the trade deadline, neither side batting an eye in what Executive Director of the National Basketball Player’s Association, Michele Roberts, describes as a “game of chicken,” is noteworthy.

One of their top targets in Damian Lillard is undergoing abdominal surgery which figures to sideline him for a long time. Add that to the complicated calculus of the whole equation.

If nobody changes their stance, what do Morey and Brand do? What would they do on Feb. 10th? If they decided to pull the trigger on a deal, how long might it take to pull three or even four teams together for a blockbuster? Surely those complicated trades don’t come together quickly. Maybe that’s why we haven’t heard much has happened since Woj said trade momentum was building, over a month ago.

Earlier on Wednesday, a report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick added the following:

“In terms of Simmons’ eventual availability with a new team, the message has been sent that he would be ready to play after a few weeks of intensified conditioning and court action.”

That bit raised eyebrows because it seems to imply Simmons might be able to begin ramp up towards a return to the court. But a return that doesn’t seem to be imminent in Philadelphia. So does that undercut Rich Paul and Klutch’s position that Simmons is out specifically because of mental health reasons? Or is it implying the Sixers themselves are the root cause of said issues, and a change of scenery would help resolve the situation?

To that point, the latest from Wojnarowski:

“Paul told the Sixers that Simmons’ mental health hurdles continue to preclude him from a return to play with the team, and the desire for a trade out of Philadelphia remains in place, sources said.”

By now, you probably know the themes well enough to prefer to focus on something else. To that end, you’re not alone.

There are about 29 days to go before deadline, and not much has changed in awhile. I wonder what they had for lunch.