What a wild ride Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers have us on.
On Monday, Simmons showed up to Philadelphia’s arena during a preseason game, surprising the organization and fans alike. His arrival comes weeks after Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that Simmons would not report to training camp and intended to never play for the organization again.
Until the loss of potentially millions of dollars became a reality.
With the preseason game tonight vs. Brooklyn, Simmons will top the $1M mark in loss of pay. https://t.co/nf1kWYEqvJ
— Bobby Marks (@BobbyMarks42) October 11, 2021
It also doesn’t appear that Sixers president of basketball operations, Daryl Morey, is feeling any urgency to trade him. And why should he? Simmons’ stock has never been lower, he has four years remaining on his contract, and the potential loss of millions of dollars was clearly enough to get him to report.
The Sixers hold all the leverage, and they know it.
The real question now becomes: where will Simmons go from here?
Philadelphia has one preseason game remaining against the Detroit Pistons on October 15 before beginning their regular season schedule against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 20. Will Simmons play?
“I’m assuming he’s going to play, but who knows? I can’t get in anyone’s head,” head coach Doc Rivers said.
“Whether we play him or not, that’s going to depend on what we see this week,” Rivers said. “He’s coming from behind, because he hasn’t been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That’s a whole other subject. What we see this week is how we determine everything going forward.”
Simmons’ best option could be to return to game action and play well, showcasing his skills to teams who may be leery of trading for him following his postseason struggles.
As far as we know, Simmons has not rescinded his trade demand, making for an uncomfortable situation within the organization and the locker room.
“I don’t know. He’s voiced that, but we’ll see how that works out,” Rivers said on Wednesday when he was asked about the status of Simmons’ trade demand.
The Simmons saga has been fascinating to watch from afar, as one of the best defenders in the game appeared to lose all confidence in his offensive game during the NBA playoffs.
The Sixers — who have not been to an Eastern Conference Final since the 2000-2001 season — lost to the Atlanta Hawks in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. In the series, Simmons struggled mightily on the offensive side of the floor, often refusing to look for his own shot.
Simmons averaged just 9.9 points per game against the Hawks, much of which could be attributed to his horrendous free-throw shooting during the playoffs.
A 61.3% free-throw shooter during the regular season, Simmons dipped to a historically low 34.2% in the postseason.
During the seven-game series against Atlanta, Simmons attempted just three total shots in the fourth quarter and didn’t have a single fourth-quarter attempt in the last four games of the series.
But it was the way his play was discussed after the series that appears to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
After their second-round exit, Rivers was asked if Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team, to which Rivers replied, “I don’t know the answer to that.”
After the game, Joel Embiid pointed to the play as the turning point.
“I’ll be honest: I thought the turning point was when we had an open shot, and we made one free throw and we missed the other, and they came down and scored,” Embiid said.
Philadelphia has made it clear that they want Simmons on the floor with them. Whether that’s the full truth or simply posturing remains to be seen.
However it plays out, the Simmons situation in Philadelphia will be the major talking point in NBA circles as the regular season gets under way.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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