September 28, 2021 | 10:50 am EDT Update
Yet of all the problem areas to explore, there‚Äôs none more unyielding and impossible to ignore than this: People who have intimate knowledge of how he sees this situation continue to insist that he‚Äôs done playing with Embiid. There‚Äôs nothing personal about this choice, it seems, but the 25-year-old Simmons has clearly decided that his career is better off without Embiid blocking the runways in the paint that he so badly needs to succeed.
As he sees it, sources say, the organization‚Äôs choice to build its basketball ecosystem around Embiid‚Äôs style simply isn‚Äôt conducive to the way he needs to play. So while Embiid insisted to reporters on Monday that he wants Simmons back, this much is clear: The feeling is not mutual. ‚ÄúIt has run its course,‚ÄĚ the source said of their pairing.
‚ÄúI watched last night a player lead their team to victory where a thousand pounds of digital ink were spilled on how much he would never play for that team again,‚ÄĚ Morey had said of the Green Bay Packers star who led a last-second win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night after looking destined for a divorce with the franchise just months ago. ‚ÄúLook, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here. ‚Ä¶Ben‚Äôs a great player, and we expect him back. We expect him to be a 76er.‚ÄĚ Cue the response. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs total bullshit,‚ÄĚ one source with knowledge of Simmons‚Äô outlook said of Morey‚Äôs analysis.
Truth be told, sources say Simmons thought he would have been traded by now. When he met with the Sixers brass at the Los Angeles home of his agent, Rich Paul, in August, telling managing partner Josh Harris in direct fashion that he no longer wanted to play for his club, the goal was to avoid this sort of mess. Sources say the Sixers had come equipped with all sorts of reasons that he should want to stay, and even supported the argument with a statistically based presentation featuring the success of the Embiid-Simmons pairing. But his view, his uneasy feelings about the problematic fit remained unchanged.
Early on last season, when the intel coming the Philadelphia 76ers guard‚Äôs way indicated that he‚Äôd likely be trading places with then Rockets-star James Harden, Simmons was so convinced that new Sixers president Daryl Morey was about to reunite with his favorite franchise player that he started researching on the real estate front. If you had to pinpoint a moment when emotional ties were severed between Simmons and the only NBA franchise he has ever known, that may have been it.
Kevin Porter Jr.‚Äôs presence in Houston is much more than basketball ‚ÄúThis organization saved my life potentially.‚ÄĚ The room stood still for a moment when Porter spoke about the importance of the Houston Rockets to his personal life. So often when we talk about trades, we look at how Player X can impact a new team. But we rarely look at the other side of the game, the mental side. Porter‚Äôs past is well-documented, and he spoke about his tough upbringing. In Cleveland, he didn‚Äôt truly feel like it was the right place for him or his growth. Being traded to the Rockets was ‚Äúa breath of fresh air.‚ÄĚ