Ben Simmons … MVP candidate??? Metta Sandiford-Artest thinks so … telling TMZ Sports he truly believes the Philadelphia 76ers guard (at least for now, that is) … will be one of the best players in the NBA this season. The NBA champ had high praises for the disgruntled star when we spoke with him this week … and despite all the drama surrounding his trade demand, Metta says it will be a breakthrough season for the 25-year-old. “This kid is going to be an MVP candidate,” the former All-Star emphatically expressed. “Just because he’s a superstar doesn’t mean he needs to be a shooter.”
A league source said the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs are still inquiring about Simmons’ availability. But for now Simmons remains with Philly — and is being punished for missing time. The Sixers withheld $8.25 million of his salary Friday and placed the payment in an escrow account, sources confirmed. His contract is structured for him to receive 50% of this season’s $33 million salary by Oct. 1.
However, a source expects Simmons to receive all of the money owed to him. The belief is whichever team that acquires him is going to waive the fines the Sixers put in place. The Sixers’ position that they’re not going to trade Simmons just to make a trade has been consistent.
Sandiford-Artest offered some advice to Simmons and other players that might find themselves in a similar situation. "You don’t request trades when you don’t have to, 'cause you don’t want to mess with your legacy," he said. "Stay with one team as long as you can. Build that comfort. Build your legacy."
Friday marked Day 5 of the Simmons holdout in Philly. It was also the due date for another advance payment — worth 25% of his $33 million salary — that Simmons was scheduled to receive before the start of the season. The Sixers have been adamant that they will not publicly discuss whether they would cut or withhold this check after Simmons received a similar payout in August. One source close to the process said Thursday that the Simmons camp is confident that the player will ultimately receive the money, either after a trade or when the standoff is eventually resolved by other means, whether or not he is paid now.
The financial element is one of the key factors that makes this standoff so unique compared to previous NBA holdouts. Simmons is in Year 2 of a five-year, $177 million contract. He has already earned, according to the source, in the neighborhood of $100 million in his career when factoring in Simmons' rookie contract, his shoe deal and endorsements and the Year 1 salary from his current contract — plus this season’s first 25 percent installment. This is not a holdout motivated by the pursuit of greater riches. Simmons has already been paid handsomely in his first five seasons and thus would appear to have the financial wherewithal to keep sitting in an attempt to force the Sixers to blink and trade him.
The challenge for Simmons and his agent Rich Paul: They are up against a similarly resolute foe. Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, as we've been writing and saying for months, was never terribly concerned about locker-room tensions or unflattering headlines in Houston. League observers consistently describe him as more apt than most front-office executives to stomach short-term discomfort if it enhances his chances down the road of a more appetizing Simmons trade offer materializing than those currently available.
Marc Stein: Ben Simmons is due 25 percent of his salary ($8.25 million) today, but whether or not the Sixers issue the check on Day 5 of Ben's holdout one source close to the process says Simmons' camp believes it will ultimately get the money either way after a trade or separate resolution.
Derek Bodner: Embiid (more): "We've always had shooters, and I feel like i can really play with anybody, and I can make anybody be better on the court...We are a better team with him. There's no question about it. We still hope that he changes his mind."
Derek Bodner: Embiid (continued): "The situation is weird, disappointing, borderline kinda disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives. Some guys rely on the team to be successful to stay in the league and make money somehow."
Kyle Neubeck: Joel Embiid, who does note the Sixers are better with Ben Simmons around, says today that report suggesting they're not a fit together is "borderline disrespectful" to other guys on the team in a wide-ranging answer
Kyle Neubeck: Embiid on Ben, partial: "Our teams have always been built around his needs. So it's just kind of surprising to see. Even going back to, the reason we signed Al, we got rid of Jimmy, which I still think was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands."
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid said the Ben Simmons situation is “weird, disappointing, borderline disrespectful” in an extended answer a few minutes ago. Embiid reiterates he hopes Simmons comes to camp and said the team is better with him. Said he’s focused on the players here.
I've talked to people who say Portland's been hesitant to move (CJ McCollum) for Ben Simmons because they think CJ is a better, more polished adult player than Ben Simmons, who was a bit of a mystery right now.
THE SPURS TALKED with the Philadelphia 76ers about Ben Simmons, but those talks have not gotten far, sources said. They sniffed around intriguing young free agents -- including Lauri Markkanen and John Collins, sources said -- but snared neither.
Simmons believes his partnership with Embiid has run its course and it is another reason why he wants out from the team. After the team finished up practice on Tuesday, coach Doc Rivers brushed off the latest report. “I don’t have a reaction to that because Ben’s not here,” Riverstold reporters. “I do believe at some point, he will be and if he isn’t, you got another story. I don’t get caught up in that. Right now I’m going to focus on the guys that are on the floor. I think that’s more important.”
Jon Krawczynski: (Sachin Gupta) absolutely is a fan of Ben Simmons. He was in Philadelphia when Ben Simmons first got there. I do think that overall, just the organization's position is that Ben Simmons is a perfect fit for their roster for what they need and what Ben Simmons needs from a team around him. So I do think that they are going to continue to pursue Ben Simmons aggressively, I can't say, you know, 100% that, you know, they're in the driver's seat, or it's going to happen or anything like that. But I do know that the dismissal of Gersson Rosas has not poured any cold water on their pursuit of Simmons, they really think that he can be a difference maker.
Ramona Shelburne: Ben Simmons is willing to sit as long as it takes to. When you talk to people close to Ben, I say ,"Okay, worst-case scenario it takes all year. Would he sit all year?" And the answer right now is: "Yes."
Things can change fast, but league sources don’t sense that a deal is anywhere close right now. The Sixers still hope Simmons will return to the team so they can experiment with his role, or increase his value and help create more trade possibilities. On media day, Morey compared the Simmons situation to that of Aaron Rodgers, who threatened to leave the Green Bay Packers but ended up returning for one more season. The Sixers hope Simmons will choose to do the same.
Six weeks ago, a Sixers contingent including Doc Rivers, executives Daryl Morey and Elton Brand, and owner Josh Harris flew to Los Angeles hoping to convince Ben Simmons to return to Philadelphia for training camp, or at least gain clarity on why he wants out. But sources with knowledge of the meeting say Simmons, who was accompanied by his agent, Rich Paul, gave no clear reason for why he demanded to be traded earlier in the offseason.
League sources say the primary motivation for Klutch Sports’ aggressive holdout is to steer him to a team built around him on offense. No matter the roster makeup in Philly, he will only ever be no. 2 as long as Embiid is healthy.
Jeff Zillgitt: Within this story is obviously the Ben Simmons situation, and while the Sixers said yesterday they want him on the court, they're also targeting the Western Conference for potential trade partners, I'm told.
Noah Levick: From Doc Rivers: -Still expects Ben Simmons to be here at some point -More players should feel free to push ball up court without him -Second unit enjoyed playing with Niang, his shooting
A source confirmed that the Sixers’ words failed to produce the expected effect within Simmons’ camp.
A source close to the situation told The Inquirer Tuesday morning that Simmons’ tenure in Philadelphia “is done. He’s not coming back.” The source also noted Simmons was never going to meet with teammates last week in Los Angeles because his decision had already been made.
The Sixers planned to take a jet to meet with Simmons and attempt to persuade him to commit to playing for the Sixers this season. However, they were instructed not to come because Simmons did not want to meet with them. “He had already closed the book,” the source said.
A source confirmed to The Inquirer that Simmons has decided his career would better off without playing alongside Embiid, where there have been spacing issues on offense.
Yet of all the problem areas to explore, there’s 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’s done playing with Embiid. There’s 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’s choice to build its basketball ecosystem around Embiid’s style simply isn’t 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. “It has run its course,” the source said of their pairing.
“I 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,” 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. “Look, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here. …Ben’s a great player, and we expect him back. We expect him to be a 76er.” Cue the response. “It’s total bullshit,” one source with knowledge of Simmons’ outlook said of Morey’s 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’s way indicated that he’d 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.
Noah Levick: Tobias Harris on Ben Simmons: "I've done my part of reaching out and communicating. The situation is what it is at this point. ... Training camp starts tomorrow and I don't think he's coming through that door, so we have to push on right now."
Derek Bodner: Shake Milton, on whether the Simmons uncertainty could be a distraction: "Not really. I guess if you let it. The guys in the locker room, we kinda have our head on straight, and we recognize it's gonna be a whirlwind (until it's resolved)."
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid on Ben Simmons: "If I didn't love playing with Ben Simmons, I'm honest, I would say it." Embiid says it's time for the Sixers to take the next step and emphasizes he's disappointed with the current situation (Simmons not being here).
Derek Bodner: Embiid says he's disappointed that Simmons situation has deteriorated. "I really hope he changes his mind..I do love playing with him because he adds so much to our team. We've been building this team around us. I don't see it as 'This is my team'. I don't care about any of that"
Tom Moore: #Sixers star center Joel Embiid on his personal relationship with Ben Simmons: 'I think last year we were closer than before.'
Keith Pompey: Joel Embiid was asked what the team needs from Simmons if he returns: "We've all seen the videos. So that would help." Embiid said Simmons has the potential to be that good. #Sixers
Chris Mannix: Embiid with a long, long pause when asked by @Tim Bontemps what he would say to Simmons. "I'm disappointed. We haven't won anything ... I got to be better, everyone has got to be better. But in the regular season, we have been so dominant ... we know it's working."
Chris Mannix: Embiid on Simmons: "I know he is going through a lot ... we just have to let him be himself."
Michael Lee: Joel Embiid on calling Ben Simmons passing up a late dunk a turning point after Game 7. "I don’t have any regrets because I didn’t call out anybody. I just stated the facts. I’m honest & I cant lie. I don’t feel like I put anybody in a situation where they had to feel bad."
Derek Bodner: Embiid, on Philly fans: "Fans have the right to act the way they want to. Personally, I would not want to be in another city...It's only fair for them to be pissed off when we lose...We get paid based on them coming to games and buying jerseys. I'm grateful for it."
Noah Levick: Joel Embiid: Trade rumors are "part of the business. ... You can't get mad at that. That's just the way it is." Embiid recalls "the whole city wanted" him traded two years, and "you don't really get treated as a human being. ... Then again, it is a business."
Chris Mannix: Morey says there is "a lot of hope" for reconciliation between the Sixers and Simmons. "We have a lot of optimism we can make it work here."
Noah Levick: Daryl Morey says Sixers "were not looking to trade" Ben Simmons and that Simmons' reps asked for a trade after the season in Chicago. "We are disappointed he's not here," Morey says of Simmons. He says his focus is to "do what gives us the best chance to win a championship.'
Michael Lee: Doc Rivers on how his comments after Game 7 about Ben Simmons were taken out of context: "Who do you think defended Ben more? I think the world of him as a player." On if that comment is why Ben wants out of Philadelphia: "I don't believe that's one of the problems."
Kyle Neubeck: Doc Rivers continues to dispute how his G7 comments were received..."What I said, and you can watch over and over again when you watch it, there's something called intent...I wasn't answering any question...I just wasn't talking about it."
However, sources have said Simmons isn’t concerned about the fine. Money plays no role in his decision-making. Simmons is doing all the things that will lead to a trade.
Dane Moore: Whoever you talk to around the league, it's a lot of the same thing when it comes to a Ben Simmons trade: "It all starts Monday". If/when Simmons does not show up to training camp, that's when the trade market really starts to materialize, and real offers start coming in.
76ers swingman Danny Green addressed the Simmons situation this week on the latest episode of his “Inside the Green Room” podcast. “This has nothing to do with the organization,” said Green. “This has to do with us. We just want to meet with him on a personal level, on a human being, friend level. If he still considers us friends, we don’t know if that’s the case yet or not.
“I know he still communicates with some of the guys,” Green added. “I haven’t been in communication with him. But I would love to meet with him and sit down and talk just to see where his head was at. Let him know that we have his back and we want him back and just give him some friendly advice. Just first and foremost as a human being, as a professional.”
Matt Moore: Quick note: the general reaction from sources close to the Nuggets regarding reports that they are “frontrunners” for a Simmons deal is general confusion. “Who would we even trade?” is a common refrain.
Matt Moore: I inquired about the suggested idea that Jamal Murray would be the centerpiece of a trade. “Not sure if that’s more insulting to Jamal or us to be honest” was the response.
NBA Central: Brian Windhorst says Ben Simmons playing in front of Sixers fans is a ‘factor’ in him wanting out of Philadelphia “He doesn’t want to be in front of those fans. …I don’t think he intends to ever show his face there again.” (Via @Sirius XM NBA ) pic.twitter.com/Ltt0ccwARf
NBA Central: "I talked to Rich Paul, and Rich Paul was the one who told me, 'We want out. We want out. And we'll go to whatever degree we have to go to in order to get out. We want to be anywhere but in Philadelphia.'" - @RealJayWilliams (Via ESPN | h/t Bleacher Report) pic.twitter.com/8TzNQQi1LB
The core leaders on the 76ers — such as Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle — and most of the team were set to take a jet to see Simmons before being turned away, sources said. Multiple sources said Simmons didn’t want his teammates, some of whom he considers friends, to make the Philadelphia-to-Los Angeles commute out of courtesy because he won’t change his mind on wanting a trade.
The 76ers’ training camp begins this upcoming week, with Media Day on Monday. Simmons has mentally checked out as a member of the 76ers, sources said, meaning whether or not he ever appears in Philadelphia this season the organization may never again receive the same dedicated player.
So far, the 76ers have not received an offer they deem enough to move Simmons and the franchise has wanted Simmons back to rejoin an Eastern Conference contender. Philadelphia has no trade imminent, although teams are calling, according to sources. Simmons has four years and $147 million left on his max contract.
Darren Wolfson: Sachin Gupta wants Ben Simmons. The same hurdles remain, but can he now be more creative on three-team scenarios? That still seems to be the key. But make not mistake: Gupta is all in on acquiring Ben Simmons.
Darren Wolfson: (Gupta) is going to work his ass off to try to acquire Ben Simmons and he has full authority to do so. Glen Taylor, Marc Lore, Alex Rodriguez... Trust me, they've given him the green light
According to sources, the 76ers would want limited or no protections on those firsts in hopes of flipping them for an All-Star caliber player around the deadline. That, alone, would be incredibly risky for Cleveland -- a still-rebuilding team that’s won 60 combined games over the last three years and is only projected to win around 26 this season. Even the addition of Simmons wouldn’t change the 2021-22 forecast that much, as the Cavs wouldn’t have enough short-term floor-spacers or shooters around the limited Simmons. Any deal would mean rejiggering the roster quite a bit.
Because Gupta has been elevated from inside the organization, it is conceivable that the Wolves can move right along and continue their talks with the Sixers without much of a diversion. Gupta and Morey worked together for years in Houston so there is background there, and sources say Gupta was involved in some of the talks with the Sixers earlier this summer before the conflict with Rosas reached its head.
Skeptical teams observing the Sixers believe that the interest in reconciling with Simmons stems more from their hope to recoup a bit more trade leverage than the infinitesimal amount they currently possess rather than a genuine attempt to mend the relationship. Whatever the motivations are for trying to coax Simmons back to the squad, withholding a large seven-figure sum after a few missed practices does not sound like the wisest olive branch to extend.
The Sixers would be best served if Simmons and Paul rethink their plans, though Simmons “is clearly aware of sanctions available to the organization to fine and suspend him, including withholding of salary,” according to Wojnarowski. An NBA source said Wednesday that Simmons initially asked for a trade at the draft combine in Chicago “right after” the end of the 2020-21 season. The Game 7 home loss to the Hawks occurred on June 20, with the combine running from June 21-27.
Simmons has apparently already received $8.25 million of his 2021-22 salary, with another $8.25 million due if he’s on the roster Oct. 1. The Sixers aren’t saying what they plan to do or if they must make that payment when, barring a dramatic shift, Simmons follows through with his holdout, according to the source.
Rather than increasing Simmons’ value in a trade, the Sixers’ preference is for Simmons to report and play this season in Philadelphia, according to an NBA source. Rivers said the same thing Wednesday: “We would love to have Ben back.”
Though it doesn't look good right now, the Sixers continue to insist that their preferred outcome at this point is to bring Simmons back and try to work through this. Embiid has publicly stumped for Simmons and privately insisted they can turn this around if they simply get him back in the gym and around the team. Rivers does not believe this will be an issue in the locker room, using an example from his own playing days to show these situations can be rectified.
The Simmons-Rivers relationship has been one of many issues in question as this has played out over the summer. Sources with knowledge of the situation have noted throughout the offseason that mending that relationship would be one of the most important steps toward potentially making this work, even if temporarily, and there has been little-to-no progress on that front. Simmons' buy-in has been described as "low" or "non-existent" by team sources in recent weeks, with the head coach and player rarely speaking since the season ended in late June.
Tom Moore: #NBA source: The #Sixers' goal isn't to increase Ben Simmons' trade value by him reporting but for Simmons to come back and play this season. Also, Simmons and agent Rich Paul initially asked for a trade in Chicago "right after" the 2020-21 season ended.
Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers wants to change Ben Simmons' mind. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the star guard has told the team that he will not report to training camp next week and does not plan to play for the franchise again. "Well, I hope we can change that thought," Rivers said on ESPN's Keyshawn, JWill, and Max on Wednesday morning. "That's part of our job."
Marc Farzetta: "We hear it all, but we're not going to give up on that...I just love how [Ben Simmons] plays. I love a lot of the things that he does for the team...but we have to go through all this to get him back" -Sixers Coach Doc Rivers on @FirstTake
While Rivers wants to change the narrative, he hasn't had much of a chance this offseason. He was asked how much he's talked to Simmons. "Not much, but we've had some," he said. "And I get his feelings. I understand where he's at right now, but we're going to keep trying to work on it to get him in the right place."
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.
They could likely make such a deal tomorrow if they chose. But looking at all the options on the table, the Sixers prefer Simmons being on the floor and playing for them compared to dealing him for offers that cut into their title odds, sources say. The premise of dealing Simmons for assets and developing talent rests on making another more important move down the road, which people with the team have scoffed at recently.
"There are a few deals you could say, we do this, and we'll gamble that sometime later, we'll take draft picks and turn it back into having [a title] chance," a team source told PhillyVoice. "But why do that?...there's no reason to go get draft picks right now because you could just do it all at once. Why take the risk that you do that and you can't flip back out of it? It makes no sense with Joel in his prime."
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.
January 19, 2022 | 4:54 am EST Update
Several league personnel view Washington as a favorite to land Grant. He hails from the D.C. area, his father Harvey played for the franchise from 1988-93 and again from 1996-98. The Wizards’ first-year head coach Wes Unseld Jr. also coached Grant as an assistant with the Nuggets.
The frenzy comes one year after Pistons general manager Troy Weaver swiftly declined any inquiry about Grant’s availability after the forward surprisingly chose Detroit in free agency. Sources say Detroit is now asking for two first-round picks or one first-round pick plus a high-upside young player.
For any team to sign off on a trade for Grant, they’ll need assurances of his plans to re-sign this offseason, just like Gordon did in Denver. Grant also has little interest in joining a new situation where he doesn’t feature as a primary offensive option, sources said.
The Pistons’ package of Grant, Saddiq Bey, Kelly Olynyk and a first-round pick, for example, was not met with much enthusiasm by Philadelphia brass, league sources told B/R. But when that deal construct began to circle around rival NBA front offices this fall, it also alerted teams to Grant’s surprising availability
Sean Cunningham: Kings PG De’Aaron Fox on his name attached to trade rumors, how he deals with it, & if he controlled his future, what he’d like to happen. “I want to win; I want to be part of a winning team. We’re continuing to build & work towards that.”
it’s difficult to imagine a deal structure that doesn’t send either Deni Avdija or Rui Hachimura back to the Pistons. Montrezl Harrell’s expiring $9.7 million contract can help make the salaries match, and Harrell has been considered available for trade, according to league sources.