Noah Levick: Doc Rivers says he doesn’t think Ben Simmons is any closer to returning to the Sixers, but he isn’t sure. Rivers notes Simmons “does come into the facility. ... Hopefully we’ll know sooner or later.”
But we forget sometimes that executives are ultra-competitive in their professions as well, and it’s safe to say Morey has no interest in executing a bad deal because of pressure ever again. As an aside, sources say that’s also the reason the Sixers have zero interest in the prospect of swapping Simmons for Westbrook now and alleviating the Lakers’ fit concerns with their superstar trio.
Accurate or not, this years-long pattern of Simmons struggling with confidence issues on the floor is seen by some interested teams as a separate matter from the mental-health struggles that he has cited as his reason for staying off it. 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.
The Sixers’ messaging on Simmons, both publicly and privately, is that they want Simmons back in the lineup. And they have conveyed to teams that they aren’t lowering the asking price for Simmons, sources familiar with the Sixers told Sports Illustrated, continuing to insist any package includes an established All-Star.
Will that position change as we get closer to the Feb. 10 trade deadline? Teams I’ve talked to aren’t so sure Philly will have the stomach to reject a solid but not spectacular offer for Simmons, not with the Eastern Conference’s looking so competitive and Joel Embiid’s playing at an MVP level.
The Philadelphia 76ers have begun to attach Tobias Harris to their trade discussions of Ben Simmons, according to Brian Windhorst and Marc J. Spears of ESPN. Harris signed a five-year, $180 million deal with the 76ers during the 2019 offseason. "I'm hearing they want to include Tobias Harris," said Spears of Philadelphia's trade talks with the Atlanta Hawks. "Me too," replied Windhorst. "That is the word out there because they can't necessarily get an All-Star they want in return right now, as the Sixers have continued their talks, they've talked to teams about trading Tobias and Ben."
Brian Windhorst: From what I understand, the Wolves have pretty much offered every asset package they could possibly offer for Ben Simmons, except for Anthony Edwards and Karl Towns.
Darren Wolfson: Ben Simmons of Philadelphia remains squarely on the Wolves radar. The Wolves would love just like many months ago to find a way to acquire Ben Simmons. Easier said than done.
The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, have emerged as a new Simmons suitor to watch, sources say, as last season’s Eastern Conference Cinderellas slide farther and farther away from the levels they reached during an unexpected run to the conference finals. The Hawks awoke Monday, courtesy of a 2-4 road trip, marooned in 12th in the East at 17-22 and down to No. 27 leaguewide in defense rating.
One source close to the situation insisted to me over the weekend that the Sixers have little-to-no hope of success if their intent is to let the trade deadline pass without dealing Simmons and then try to lobby him to rejoin the squad for the regular season's stretch run as well as the postseason. While still listed as out game after game for personal reasons while focusing on his mental health, Simmons is said to be holding firm on his pledge to never again wear the uniform of the team that selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
The Sixers continue to regard the hard-for-outsiders-to-fathom prospect of convincing Ben Simmons to come back to the team this season as their "goal No. 1," according to a source familiar with Philadelphia's thinking.
The Knicks have internally discussed pathways to landing Ben Simmons, but New York has never phoned Sixers brass regarding any potential deal structure, league sources told B/R. It is difficult to imagine a direct scenario where the Knicks could meet Philadelphia's lofty asking price of a top-tier player without including a third team.
Canvassing several NBA sources, none like the idea of Randle and Simmons on the floor together. And yet, the Knicks certainly have the assets needed to get a deal done if the Sixers are looking for multiple prospects. Or if they find a third team open to sending a playoff-ready veteran to Philadelphia in exchange for New York's many young players.
The 76ers will be discussing various Simmons trade scenarios for the next month, but actually trading him before the NBA’s annual trade buzzer is not their preferred scenario. As it stands. Convincing Simmons to rejoin the team and play as much of the remaining schedule as possible, according to one source familiar with Philadelphia’s thinking, is the club’s “goal No. 1” when it comes to the wayward playmaker.
More than four weeks are left in this trade season for the Sixers to amend that stance, but the vibe they continue to emit — no matter how loudly outsiders push back — is that they believe waiting can indeed enhance their chances of acquiring a Damian Lillard or a Bradley Beal for Simmons. As it stands.
Use the Kings as an example. Sacramento is now reportedly open to making De’Aaron Fox and/or Tyrese Haliburton available in the right deals, and those aren’t equal propositions for Philadelphia. In all likelihood, sources say, a deal involving Fox would almost certainly have to be a three-team deal, moving Fox to another party in order to get what the Sixers think they need.
NBA Central: “It was suggested to me this week by one league source to keep an eye on Atlanta as an emerging suitor for Philadelphia’s Simmons” 👀 - @Marc Stein pic.twitter.com/TeSsRdPe3j
Still, sources say the Sixers — who have been on the lookout for an All-Star in return for Simmons for so long now — have continued to ask for a massive haul in return while frustrating some suitors along the way. As such, some team executives remain convinced that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is still waiting for Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal to be made available down the line (i.e. this summer at the earliest).
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers could be a team to watch in the Simmons sweepstakes: COVID issues in the league has cooled a lot of thetrade talk around the league, but as players start to get back, teams get their rosters back, you know Ben Simmons in Philadelphia, I think you’ll see the Sixers start to reengage teams. Certainly he is no closer to agreeing to come back to play with the Sixers this season and they don’t have any real traction on atrade yet.Trade deadline is February 10 and you can expect teams who’ve been engaged with Philly previously Indiana, Sacramento, Minnesota among them but but here’s an interesting thing to watch the Cleveland Cavaliers who before they went on this really incredible start to the season had been engaged with Philly on Simmons. They’ve got some really intriguing assets either in a straight deal with Philly or perhaps a three or four team deal and we reported earlier J.B. Bickerstaff agreed to a new extension today through ’26-’27, but this is a team in Cleveland that’s just a game out of third place.
Marc Stein: The Sixers have been adamant that they're not going to trade Ben Simmons until their demands are met in terms of a return package. And I would say that they've convinced many, many people around the league that they're going to stick with that stance, even if that takes them past this trade deadline. And even if that means that they can't trade Simmons until the offseason.
Windhorst: There’s been a number of rumors that have gone around the league in the last few weeks about Ben Simmons trade involving the Morey quarangular. That would be Philadelphia, Minnesota, the Kings, and the Rockets. … Let’s just say there has been a lot of discussion. I’ve had executives tell me that when Ben Simmons gets traded, it will include one or more of the quadrangular. Not that that’s where Ben Simmons would go, but they would probably be involved, because a Ben Simmons trade likely ends up being a multi-team deal. MacMahon: The Rockets have been much better lately, but they get ‘Hey, this is very early in a rebuild.’ So they’re trying to wedge their way in and get ammo for a rebuild, for sure.
Ryan Ward: Fresh odds have surfaced on Ben Simmons regarding his next team. The Lakers are rumored to be interested in Simmons, but 5 teams have better odds, according to @betonline_ag: FAVORITE - Blazers: 7/4 Pacers: 2/1 Pelicans: 5/2 Knicks: 3/1 Celtics: 5/1 LAKERS: 7/1
Jake Fischer: The only outgoing call I confirmed was to Philadelphia for Ben Simmons… When I got the information that they called about Ben, the conversation pretty much was, “We’re interested in Ben. How would we get there?” The obvious solution is Russell Westbrook. He’s not a player on that Sixers list that they have.
Jake Fischer: They don’t have to move Ben just to move him and not waste a year of Embiid’s prime. They really believe that if they move Simmons for anything less than they value him, they’ll be sacrificing multiple years of Embiid’s prime for not maximizing Simmons as a trade asset. Their ultimate goal still remains to have Simmons get back on the court and join them because that was their goal I think moving into the offseason anyway. Simmons became a trade candidate when he requested it. I think the Sixers were definitely open to moving him for someone like Damian Lillard, Beal, or Harden. Short of that, they believe Ben is their best chance right now and the best possible addition to get this team back to where they were last year as the top team in the East.
Michael Scotto: I heard the Pelicans discussed trading future first-round picks and pick swaps with the 76ers for Ben Simmons, league sources told HoopsHype. Brandon Ingram was not involved in the talks, I’m told, at least as of now. With Zion Williamson’s latest injury setback, it’s unclear how that could move the needle for the Pelicans in their efforts to land Simmons.
One source said the Kings are still shopping a package including Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III in hopes of getting a good player in return. Sources told The Bee over the summer the Kings had expressed interest in the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons and Toronto Raptors’ Pascal Siakam.
The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers are among the teams interested in Simmons, sources said, although it’s unclear how much traction Philadelphia truly has on any move.
The 76ers are ramping up their efforts to spark multi-team trade scenarios to move Simmons, sources said, and a fresh pool of teams has emerged as potential destinations.
Nevertheless, the Sixers are becoming more engaged on multiple fronts in talks centered on Simmons. Philadelphia has been aggressively trying to assemble two- and three-team deal structures to land a package that would include a top 25-level player, sources said.
As the Philadelphia 76ers begin to gather momentum in trade conversations for All-Star guard Ben Simmons, the Portland Trail Blazers reiterated that one of the Sixers' top targets -- All-NBA guard Damian Lillard -- is not available to be discussed, sources told ESPN.
The Sixers have long targeted Lillard, who reaffirmed his desire to stay in Portland around the start of the team's training camp. After the recent firing of president of basketball operations Neil Olshey, Cronin has publicly and privately said the franchise plans to keep building around Lillard. The Blazers have been open to discussing a deal for Simmons centered on guard CJ McCollum, but that conversation never gathered traction, sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN reporting with @Zach Lowe: Philadelphia's trade conversations on Ben Simmons gathering momentum in recent days. More teams engaged, more two and three-way deal structure talks ongoing as 76ers try to land a Top 25 player for Simmons.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Much of the renewed impetus surrounds Wednesday, when 84 percent of the league's 446 players become eligible to be traded. Right now, 65 percent are eligible to be moved.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The Portland Trail Blazers have made clear to the 76ers that All-NBA guard Damian Lillard is not available to be discussed in trade talks and franchise has no interest in moving him, sources tell ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Lillard has repeatedly expressed his commitment to want to remain in Portland on his current long-term contract, and interim GM Joe Cronin has also expressed a strong commitment to continue building the franchise around the All-NBA guard.
The Pacers' sudden willingness to field trade calls on two-time All-Star Domantas Sabonis and center Myles Turner, perhaps even to entertain a rebuild, does not bring them closer to the potential acquisition of Philadelphia's Ben Simmons. The 76ers have essentially completed a third of their season at 14-12 but league sources say that president of basketball operations Daryl Morey continues to hold firm on his ambitions in a Simmons deal, seeking a return package for Simmons headlined by a player from the Damian Lillard/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander tier.
The Spurs also know that Popovich's presence still resonates with many players more than anything else San Antonio has to offer as a destination. Example: I've heard that Ben Simmons would welcome the opportunity to play for Popovich if the Spurs found a way to acquire him.
San Antonio’s efforts to crash the trade hunt for Simmons have been well-chronicled, but Philadelphia remains intent on holding out for Portland's Damian Lillard or another proven All-Star in a Simmons swap. While the Spurs clearly don't have one, it's nonetheless tantalizing to picture Simmons landing in the Alamo City so Popovich and Chip Engelland, San Antonio's renowned shooting coach, can lead the cause to rehabilitate the wayward Simmons' game.
According to Shams Charania, Lillard is interested in playing with Simmons and a package including McCollum, a first-round pick, and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons has been discussed. Such a deal would be close to a wash salary-wise, which is important considering both teams are a little over the luxury tax. While completely blowing it up now is at least worth a discussion, it’s probably more pragmatic to acquire an All-Star like Simmons first, especially at that price, and try to compete.
This preseason's trade talks between Portland and Philadelphia never advanced beyond early framework discussions, sources told B/R. Olshey believed the Blazers were constructed well enough to compete in the Western Conference and had little interest in parting ways with McCollum.
Interestingly, after the rumors of Lillard wanting to play with Simmons spread like wildfire online, the Australian guard caught win of the development and showed his interest in it. While the 25-year-old didn’t directly address it, he did “like” a post on Bleacher Report Instagram discussing the news.
Goorjian hopes Simmons finds a new home to help him flourish again and stressed that the Aussie had full support from the Boomers camp moving forward. “I just hope right now he finds a team, finds a place where he’s comfortable and gets on with his career,” he said. “I said to him: ‘We’re here for you. You’ve had some situations at Philly with your teammates, with the coach, with the organisation. You come here; we’ll welcome you with open arms. I think you’re going to love the environment, it’s your call.’”
Lillard intends to give the Trail Blazers organization time to find its next leader of basketball operations. But beyond the front office component, the face of the franchise still wants significant changes to the roster. Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Lillard would like to play with Philadelphia 76ers three-time All-Star Ben Simmons. The Trail Blazers’ league-worst defense would instantly improve, and sharing a backcourt with a non-shooter could work given Lillard’s high-volume usage.
Sources say the Trail Blazers, under Olshey, discussed the framework of a trade for Simmons, moving CJ McCollum, a first-round draft pick and a young player such as Nassir Little or Anfernee Simons to Philadelphia. The 76ers, sources said, at one point asked the Trail Blazers for McCollum and multiple draft picks and multiple draft swaps, which Portland rejected. Olshey maintained significant confidence in the roster he constructed. Now, it’s unclear if there’s a deal to be had with the 76ers. But with Olshey out, who among chair Jody Allen, vice chair Bert Kolde and Cronin would be the one making the call on a Simmons trade or any acquisition designed to alleviate Lillard’s concerns?
Justin Grasso: Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons before tonight's game vs. #Celtics: "I literally don't even talk about it. I coach the team and the guys that I can see every day. I let Daryl and Elton deal with all of the other stuff." #Sixers
Jon Johnson: Per source, Ben Simmons spent some time this afternoon at WFC for individual practice with handful of coaches, staff.
I think Ben Simmons wanted to be traded. I feel like, he felt like how it was; people weren’t loyal to him. I do feel like he’s dealing with some stuff. I do. There were times last year that the 76ers were like making it seem like he was bothered by one thing, but they knew it was something else. I just feel like he feels betrayed. He feels like nobody really has his back, and it’s time to move on. Not only that. He also knows that the average Philadelphian wants him outta here. They don’t want him. There’s gonna be no more hostile place for Ben Simmons to play than in Philadelphia.
I think they gotta trade him, man. A lot of it will be predicated on how successful the 76ers are. I feel like if the 76ers are successful, and they have a chance of going deep in the playoffs, I can see them making a move and bringing somebody in. If the 76ers are struggling, and they decide to shut it down, then I can see them holding off until they can get somebody, maybe in free agency, in a sign and trade type of thing. I can’t see Ben Simmons being here and being a part of the team long term. Who knows? Never say never, but I don’t really see this marriage where you fine this dude, and you’re doing all this other stuff ,and he decides to all of a sudden come out and play. I can’t see that happening
Asking around, some believe the Sixers will be happy to carry this through the full 2021-22 season and resume discussions again next offseason when a new set of opportunities will become available to them. That could take shape in the form of sign-and-trade possibilities, disgruntled stars finally asking out of their own problematic situations, or new management hires for other franchises wanting to take big swings on talent like Simmons. And publicly, the Sixers have certainly suggested an extension of this standoff is possible, with Morey going so far as to say he'd take this all four years of Simmons' deal if that's what it took to get the best deal.
There are opportunities to fill the void with rumors and suggestions about what the Sixers are doing and where trade talks are or are not heading. The answer right now is, well, not much of anywhere, as sources say the Sixers are mostly waiting for things to open up a bit more on December 15th. That's the day, as I'm sure many of you know and have heard by now, that most players who signed contracts in the offseason can legally be traded, creating opportunities for larger deals around the league.
In the Detroit example, sources say there's not much of a discussion to be had unless the Pistons unexpectedly decided to throw Cade Cunningham, this year's No. 1 overall pick, into the mix. Even then, the timeline Cunningham is on relative to Joel Embiid would make that a tough proposition for Philly to say yes to.
Darren Wolfson: It's just hard for me to see a scenario where Ben Simmons lands (in Minnesota) but Sachin Gupta, the inventor of the ESPN trade machine, will try to get uber creative, involve a third team. Those talks are ongoing. I am told that Gupta has been on the phone, but more so to acquaint himself with front offices he doesn't have a relationship with
How do you feel about the 76ers bringing Jerami Grant back to Philly? Better yet, what about the Sixers making another attempt to acquire James Harden in exchange for Ben Simmons? Those are two options under consideration by Sixers brass, according to multiple sources.
The team has engaged in ongoing discussions with the Detroit Pistons to acquire Grant, another forward, a young player, and a draft pick in exchange for Simmons, league sources said. One source said power forward/center Kelly Olynyk and second-year swingman Saddiq Bey were mentioned as players who could be included in a possible deal. However, a source said the Pistons are unlikely to include Bey, a Villanova product, or Olynyk.
A person close to the Sixers said the team would want a more high-profile player than Grant in exchange for Simmons. The source added that the team hasn’t spoken to the Pistons lately. But multiple sources said the Sixers have, and that the discussions were centered around Grant. The Athletic reported Thursday the Sixers have a list of 30 players they’d accept in a Simmons trade. However, several members of the front office are keen on the idea of keeping Simmons this season and pursuing Harden from the Brooklyn Nets for a sign and trade, according to multiple sources.
But here’s the part that may come as a surprise: A source with knowledge of the list said there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, and there’s an internal belief that a fair amount of them — let’s say five to 10 — could become available in the next year or two. And while it might sound like a long list, consider this much: It’s approximately six percent of the league and the rough equivalent to the number of All-Stars selected every season. The framing of the timeline, more than anything else, speaks volumes about the long-term approach the Sixers insist they’re taking. “This is like a multi-year thing,” a Sixers source said.
Yet when I checked in to update the state of affairs five days later, the message a source with knowledge of Simmons’ status shared was significantly less hopeful. As it stands, I don’t see a return happening anytime soon — if ever. What’s more, a source with knowledge of the talks between the Sixers and Simmons’ representatives indicated he’s reiterated his strong desire to be traded in recent days.
In the absence of a Simmons return, sources say, the Sixers’ belief is rival teams have grown even less motivated than before about making a move for Simmons because of the escalating uncertainty that surrounds him. If his mental health struggles aren’t solely the product of his Sixers experience, in other words, then who’s to say it will be any different somewhere else? From this standpoint, it’s not hard to find rival executives who confirm these suspicions.
So if the Sixers keep pushing for Simmons to return in a timely fashion and Simmons continues to balk, what comes next? That’s the great unknown. Will the league step in? A source with knowledge of the league’s view deemed its potential involvement a “last step,” while also emphasizing the fact that Simmons’ contract is not with the league but with the Sixers. As of now, it’s clear the league would strongly prefer to let the situation play out.
How’s it been dealing with the Ben Simmons situation for you and the team in the locker room? Seth Curry: Honestly, it’s been pretty normal. He hasn’t really been around the team at all, so it’s not like it’s been a distraction or anything. It’s kind of like he’s been out and not here. We know who we have on our team to start the season. Obviously, if he comes back, we’re going to integrate him. He’s been part of the team for a long time, so it shouldn’t be that hard.
Scotto: When I talk to other executives around the league about the situation with the Sixers, nobody feels sorry for Daryl Morey around the league. They think his asking price is way too high coming off the playoffs. Teams know Ben Simmons doesn’t want to be there. I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without him. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben.
Pompey: I think we have seen Simmons play his last game in Philly. In regards to trade talks, I’m hearing they’re on pause right now. As you said, his trade value is extremely low.
Scotto: Keith, you touched on the Warriors earlier. There are some in the organization that obviously think (Simmons) would thrive there, and there are others who think that he would be a tough fit because he’s a duplicate of Draymond Green.
Pompey: I think the whole thing is disappointing. I think it’s disappointing on both sides. I get that you have a player under contract, and they want to fine him, but it just seems like we knew since the end of last season that Ben Simmons didn’t want to be here. When you do your research and talk to sources, they were alerted of that right afterward, within days afterward (after the playoffs). Rich Paul told them that at the NBA Draft Combine, and then Ben told them that in person in August. You’re under the impression something’s going to happen. It hasn’t happened yet.
Can Udoka, who coached Simmons in Philadelphia as an assistant, get the best out of the former No. 1 overall pick? Yes. Would Simmons be interested in coming to Boston? Yes, according to a league source. And while Stevens has shown a willingness to take chances in his brief tenure as team president, he is understandably going to walk back these rumors and refute them immediately.
“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben,” Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul said. “Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?” A 76ers team official told The Athletic on Thursday it is “absolutely not” the case that they are forcing his return or accusing him of lying. The team’s position is that he should partake in all team activities until there is information from its mental health professional or Simmons that would preclude him from playing.
The 76ers say they have been fully supportive of Simmons’ process and have worked to provide him with all possible resources. As it stands, short of a doctor’s evaluation declaring he can’t play, the team expects Simmons to ramp up to return. The team sent Simmons a schedule for Thursday that included the team’s game against Toronto, which Simmons believes is an effort to withhold his game check if he does not appear at Wells Fargo Center. A fine has followed each time the 76ers have done this in the past. Simmons, who requested a trade out of Philadelphia in June, showed up to the arena on Thursday afternoon for a team meeting but did not participate in the team walkthrough or the game versus the Raptors.
Simmons, 25, has had no timetable to return to game action, but he has made it clear to team officials that he wants to be back on the floor when ready. Simmons has been participating in individual workouts, day-to-day body treatments, team shootarounds and meetings. “In this case, we have to get Ben help and not put finances above mental health,” Paul said. “As an agent, I understand contractual obligations and I hold myself accountable in this business. But if someone is telling you something, we can no longer turn a blind eye in today’s world.
“This is no longer about a trade. This is about finding a place where we can help Ben get back to his mental strength and get back on the floor. I want him on the floor playing the game that he loves. I want Ben on the floor whether that’s in a 76ers uniform or any other uniform, that’s not up to me, but I want him in a state where he can resume play. We want to cooperate and want to work him back on the floor.” Sixers officials said they were pleased to hear Paul state he is open to Simmons staying in Philadelphia. President of basketball operations Daryl Morey and other team officials have said that they believe Simmons is a piece for their championship-contending team and want him back in the lineup.
After telling the team over the summer that he wouldn’t report to training camp, Simmons arrived in Philadelphia on Oct. 11, two weeks into camp. The 76ers say that Oct. 22 was the first time Simmons informed them of any mental health concerns, and the moment they received his message they made available resources and provided support. Paul, however, said the 76ers were informed in the offseason that Simmons was not mentally ready to play in Philadelphia. The 76ers stopped fining Simmons on Oct. 22, but after two weeks went by without further information from Simmons about his process and clarity on his return-to-play status, the franchise reinstated fines and withholding payments on Nov. 5. Only then, team officials say, did Simmons meet with the team-affiliated specialist, on Monday, Nov. 8.
Team officials insist they have shown good faith throughout the process, such as releasing to Simmons the $8.25 million they withheld in an escrow on Oct. 19 — hours before he was thrown out of practice for declining to participate in a defensive drill — providing him with specialists to treat his back injury and mental health assistance as needed. Sixers officials emphasized that, to date, the team has yet to receive any information from its team therapist or Simmons’ personal specialists that would preclude him from playing or practicing. Paul, however, says that Simmons is not yet prepared to play. “He’s not there yet. How can a doctor, who has only met with Ben once, say, ‘Ben is mentally ready to play?’ So do we keep digging on him, or help him?” Paul said. “Now that we understand that reluctance from Ben, it all makes sense. There was a shying away from it. If Ben has repeatedly showed behavior that entails he isn’t mentally ready to play, embrace him. Support him. We have to remove our ego from it. We all have to take responsibility.”
Paul says he still respects the team’s upper management amid the current dispute. "I don’t think the 76ers are a bad organization. Josh Harris and David Blitzer are great governors, they’ve done a great job with the organization. I have respect for Daryl Morey,” Paul said. “Ben has a mental issue, let’s support him. I’m happy he got to a place where he realized and accepted help. I understand it’s a business, but even in business, you need humanity. “I have a great level of respect and love for the city of Philadelphia, as someone who loves the game, but this isn’t about that. This is about Ben getting back to a place mentally where he can be back on the floor — and only Ben can tell us when that is. We have to allow him to do that.”
Simmons met with the 76ers’ mental health specialist on Monday for one hour, and team officials say more meetings are scheduled between the two and that Simmons must continue to show documentation of the steps he is taking as part of the process. In a team-issued questionnaire Simmons completed on Wednesday night, several inquiries centered around whether Simmons wants a trade — not his mental health status, a source said. According to Paul, Simmons has allowed the team’s mental health professional to talk to his personal therapist and encouraged them to work together to help him find a path back to the floor. Simmons also made it clear to both sides that information from their talks was to be treated as confidential. Simmons expressed that he would allow the two therapists to continue to help him.
Paul drew a contrast between the situation with Simmons and that of Rockets guard John Wall, another of his clients, who is being paid by Houston while sitting out the season, even though he is healthy enough to play. “John is able to play, but Houston is OK using the (Collective Bargaining Agreement) to pay him not to play,” Paul said. “So which way is it? John is perfectly healthy and ready to play, and it’s OK in the CBA. We are being professional with both instances, but how can it go both ways? John and the Rockets have been professional about their situation, and we are also expecting the same with the 76ers.” Simmons’ trade request in June followed a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, after which Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid made critical public comments about Simmons’ play. Neither Rivers nor Embiid has apologized to Simmons for those remarks, sources said.
Sources say 76ers’ ownership has not met with Simmons since he returned to Philadelphia, and president of basketball operations Morey met with Simmons one-on-one once when he approached Simmons about his playing status on Nov. 3. After being thrown out of his third practice with the 76ers, Simmons met with Rivers and his teammates on Oct. 22 and informed them that he was not mentally ready to play and needed time to be in the proper state of mind. Multiple teammates publicly and privately supported Simmons, with Tobias Harris saying, “We have to respect his privacy, his space, and we’ve got to be there for him.” Last week, the 76ers became increasingly irritated with Simmons because the organization felt he was not providing further clarity on his process and not working with their team specialists.
One team source confessed to me that the Sixers never expected to start so well given the Simmons saga that has hung over them since Day 1 of training camp on top of how shorthanded they've been.
"We really fit," Embiid said, attributing it to his comfort level with teammates. "We've got great chemistry." Said Rivers: "It's funny with us. We don't know we have problems. We don't talk about them, we don't voice them. There's no talk about all the stuff."
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: After initial reluctance, Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons has met with a team-recommended specialist to discuss mental health concerns. Among other issues, the organization had recently reinstituted fines for Simmons’ failure to agree to those meetings.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Simmons is planning to continue meeting with his @NBPA-provided mental health specialist and working out regularly at the team practice facility, sources tell ESPN. Simmons has yet to play for the Sixers this season and there remains no timeline on a possible debut.
Mark Murphy: Per league source: Report of Celtics discussing trade with Philadelphia for Ben Simmons is "untrue."
Rich Hofmann: The first thing to know about this situation has been that Morey’s asking price has been quite high from the start. There are plenty of people out there who would opine it has been too high, for a player of Simmons’ caliber who is also coming off a postseason that was quite damaging to his reputation as a player. The main piece of leverage that Morey has in this situation is Simmons’ contract, which has four years remaining on it. If Simmons is feeling any sort of disrespect — and in fairness to him, the team did attempt to trade him for James Harden last season, the type of trade scenario that could arise again — Morey is holding onto him because he believes keeping Simmons is better than sub-superstar returns.
Rich Hofmann: Williams is certainly an intriguing piece. An athletic big man like him who can also make plays with the ball in his hands likely holds some decent trade value around the league, probably just not as much in this discussion. The Sixers learned the hard way that you don’t need to pay another center to play behind Embiid. “The hard way,” in this case, currently wears No. 42 for the Celtics.
Rich Hofmann: In general, I think the Sixers are just trying to push this eventual trade out as far as they can. If they can get to the middle of this season, perhaps conditions change around the league as teams start to see the reality of their rosters. It seems that the front office would prefer to use Simmons and their young players/draft capital in return for a star than multiple pieces in return for Simmons. For now, the Sixers are in a weird holding pattern. The rest of the team is playing inspired basketball and selling the image of a tight-knit group that is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. The absence of Simmons throughout all these good vibes and made 3-point shots is, um, notable. Despite all the potential awkwardness, the Sixers still want Simmons to play for them. Stevens being in the front office adds a fun wrinkle to this, but as long as he stays patient, I’m not sure I presently see a trade at this point between these two old rivals.
The Boston Celtics have engaged in conversations with the 76ers revolving around Simmons and expressed interest in the 6-foot-11 guard, sources tell The Athletic. Talks have been fluid with no traction as of yet, those sources say. Any potential Simmons deal with the Celtics would have to include All-Star forward Jaylen Brown, an ascending talent who is in the midst of another career season, averaging 25.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Simmons has provided the organization with the names of each of his mental health professionals. The franchise has access to Simmons’ mental health professionals, but those professionals are not able to provide further information to the 76ers without Simmons’ consent due to patient confidentiality. So far, Philadelphia does not have a mental health doctor on its staff with whom Simmons is comfortable, sources say. Simmons is allowed the ability to seek treatment from outside the 76ers’ physicians for mental assistance.
The National Basketball Players Association has supported Simmons throughout this process, and one NBPA source told The Athletic that as long as Simmons has provided his team with the basic information regarding mental health professionals with whom he’s seeking help, Philadelphia should not have grounds for salary withholding. The team fined Simmons last week for a shootaround at which he was present but was asked by Rivers not to participate unless he was active, sources said. Simmons has yet to play five-on-five and no plans to return to action were communicated by either side after he stated that he’s not mentally ready to play.
June 27, 2022 | 9:55 pm EDT Update
June 27, 2022 | 8:30 pm EDT Update
The Warriors are considered to be the favorites to retain Payton’s services. It isn’t a secret how much he loves the Warriors’ environment, the Bay Area and his fit as a defensive pest and off-ball slasher in a Curry-fueled environment.