September 22, 2021 | 2:15 am EDT Update
There are many who believed then and continue to insist now that Damian Lillard was about ready to ask out; a source with knowledge of the situation believes Lillard is held back by both his loyalty to Portland and an unwillingness to go back on things he’s already said about sticking things out. He ultimately decided to give this another go, and Lillard has been provided roster upgrades and had a big voice in the coaching search. He may still ask out down the road, but only time will tell how long this honeymoon lasts.
It is clear Simmons wants out though and when you consider that alongside his poor form in the playoffs, the Sixers have little leverage to work with and the offers have reflected that. “The Sixers are yet to find a deal they are willing to do,” Wojnarowski said. “They want Ben Simmons in camp, they want to see his trade value improve and then find a deal out in the marketplace but right now they are going to do it with him on the sidelines because his intention now is to not play another game for that organisation.
“They’ve asked for a steep return. It is hard to trade a star player when you are a contender because you are trying to get back the pieces that keep you a contender now. “The offers on the marketplace just did not meet the threshold that Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers want in Philly. Now there is a standoff.”
The Sixers are expecting at least some sort of absence to open the preseason, sources say, though most are convinced he will eventually show up, citing a lack of precedent for extended holdouts in the NBA. There has been some public debate over whether the Sixers would fine him for such a move in the midst of trying to work through all this, though it seems pretty black-and-white on Philly’s end.
It almost goes without saying that bridge-building would need to be done between Simmons and Doc Rivers. The head coach tried to walk back the despair he showed after Game 7 during exit interviews the very next day, and his defenses of Simmons far outnumber his one high-profile shoulder shrug. Even still, getting the two to connect during the offseason has been close to impossible, sources say. Ultimately, this is in Simmons’ hands. Rivers would tell you himself that he regrets letting his guard down during Simmons’ lowest moment as a professional. Some missteps are just harder to come back from than others.
Paul, who also manages Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Trae Young, has built a $2.7 billion empire and knows how to get what he wants. “I talked to Rich Paul,” former NBA player Jay Williams told ‘Bart & Hahn’. “He was the one that told me: ‘We want out and we’ll go to what ever degree we have to’”.
Kyle Neubeck: One detail I left out from this was the suggestion from a team source that firing Rich Paul (however unlikely) would be one way for Ben to try to rectify what some view as a self-created problem. “He could just say, ‘my agent talked me into this stupid fucking strategy.'”
Even when Philadelphia’s brain trust met with Simmons or Simmons’ representation, there was difficulty in figuring out exactly what Simmons wanted that Philadelphia didn’t or couldn’t provide here. There are legitimate reasons Simmons might want to move on, but sources say his camp has largely communicated that Simmons wants out without spotlighting issues to fix or things being done wrong.