NBA rumors: Cavs, Pacers, Wolves, Spurs, Raptors most determined suitors for Ben Simmons

League sources say that Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, San Antonio and Toronto (in alphabetical order) have been the most determined suitors for Simmons since last season ended. Morey doesn’t appear to possess anywhere near the leverage in trade talks to demand the level of star he hopes will ultimately headline what the Sixers get in return for Simmons — namely Portland’s Damian Lillard — but from the start he’s been in a far stronger position than Simmons.

More on Ben Simmons Trade?

Has Ben Simmons been a distraction? Are the Sixers prepared to accept him back into the locker room? Can you know the answers to these questions when he hasn't spoken to certain power players in the organization since the season ended? Fair questions to ask, especially when Joel Embiid is one of the people who has been boxed out, as he admitted himself on Monday night. "I personally haven't talked to him since the season ended. Obviously, I tried, but it wasn't successful as a lot of my teammates have. It's unfortunate the whole situation happened, but we're a better team with him on the floor. I think there are going to be some adjustments, but it doesn't need to be awkward," Embiid said. "We are professionals, we want to win. I want to win. He gives me the best chance to win, so that's what I'm going to go with."
"But as far as coming back and all that, we've made a few adjustments, and he's just got to come in and buy in and we're going to be fine. Last year we were the No. 1 seed. You just got to buy in and we're going to be fine." Save for Embiid's extended rant on how the team has catered to Simmons with their roster-building moves, the Sixers' players have said all the right things about welcoming Simmons back. There has been no mystery about their stance — the players have stated firmly that Simmons coming back is good for the organization and gives them a better chance to win than if he spends the season sitting in his new L.A. home.
Simmons is expected to meet with the organization's leadership starting Tuesday at the team's practice facility, sources said. That will be telltale for the organization to begin to discover whether there's an opening to convince Simmons that a reconciliation is possible -- or whether Simmons' return is simply what's needed to get the kind of trade that the Sixers want to stay contenders around All-NBA center Joel Embiid.
As the Sixers neared the tip of a 115-104 preseason victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons -- fresh off a flight from Los Angeles -- entered the arena to take a COVID-19 test and start the process of returning to a franchise from which he has requested a trade, sources said. What comes next is unclear, but the Sixers are desperate to restart communication with the three-time All-Star who hasn't had a direct conversation with the front office or coach Doc Rivers since a late August meeting in which he reiterated his desire for a trade.
Justin Grasso: Doc Rivers doesn't believe there will be a locker room issue if Ben Simmons returns. Says the #Sixers just want to win and Simmons helps with that.

http://twitter.com/PompeyOnSixers/status/1447596184802152455
Simmons could soon speak directly with team officials, something he hasn't done directly since a late August meeting in Los Angeles when he reiterated his desire to be traded, sources told ESPN. He has become more open to the possibility of ending his time away from the team and reporting to Philadelphia, which has been a focus of continuing talks between Paul and the organization, sources said.
David Aldridge: I’ve written this on Simmons to Sac before, and the rationale still holds. Simmons is an elite defensive player. He’s an elite passer. He has four years left on his deal. (He would have no problem going to Sacramento, I’m told, so strong is his desire to get out of Philadelphia.) The Kings were historically bad defensively last season. Simmons wouldn’t be a savior, but with him and Fox and whichever one of Haliburton or Mitchell the Kings kept in this scenario, Sac would suddenly become a problem defensively, wildly switchable and able to get from defense to offense in a heartbeat. They wouldn’t shoot as good without Hield, but they had Hield last year and went 31-41. What are we talking about? Given his offensive limitations, Simmons won’t be a savior wherever he goes, including Sacramento. (Of course, he wouldn’t be on the block if he didn’t have those limitations.) But he’s the kind of talent the Kings would never have a chance of getting in free agency. It would be a chancy deal for a new front office to make, but it would be worth the risk, to me.
Indiana has been a legitimate suitor for Simmons, league sources say, and really should have been cited more frequently by yours truly along with the other teams (Minnesota, Toronto, San Antonio and Cleveland) that have consistently registered interest in the unhappy Sixer. Indications persist, though, that Philadelphia has been unmoved by the Pacers’ ability to offer Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert as the headliners of a trade package. No matter how unrealistic it sounds, Portland’s Damian Lillard remains the type of starry target Morey seeks.
When you hear that Morey is resistant to deals built around the likes of Brogdon and Portland’s CJ McCollum, as well as a report from The Athletic’s Shams Charania that Philadelphia would want three first-round draft picks and the right to swap three more future first-rounders in a McCollum-centric deal, it’s clear that he feels no rush to make a move. If there are any stressors making the Sixers uncomfortable, while Simmons stays away and faces frequent salary deductions, they are difficult to detect.
Shams Charania: The Trail Blazers and Pacers have lead dоgs in CJ McCollum and Malcolm Brogdоn who could entice the 76ers in a pоtential package. But neither has gained traction for Philadelphia. The 76ers, I’m told, asked the Trail Blazers for three first-round picks and three draft swaps as part of a potential package but Portland rejected that propоsal.
Sam Amick: Man, I knew I could count on you to bring that Kings fire, DA. If anyone missed it, our Hall of Famer made this spirited Sacramento argument when we last discussed the Simmons situation in early September. Yet as was the case then, sources tell me the Kings have been determined to see what this current group looks like early on this regular season and haven’t revisited the Simmons situation since the two teams spoke months ago.
Sam Amick: It remains to be seen whether he gives in and shows up at some point, but it was made clear to me in the reporting for this Sept. 28 piece that all hope of reconciliation is gone. “Even if (Simmons) shows up, I think there’s no chance of him ever mentally being back in Philly,” the source said.
Sam Amick: But as you both know, and has been said and written about plenty of times, the Lillard-for-Simmons swap with Portland that is widely seen as Morey’s dream scenario just isn’t realistic. Not yet, anyway. “You’re waiting on a prayer,” the source said of the Lillard scenario.
Ben Simmons reportedly has had enough of Philadelphia 76ers fans, and apparently the feeling is mutual. Fans in attendance for Wednesday night’s AEW Dynamite event at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia broke out an anti-Simmons chant mid-event. Take a listen to this, though beware of the use of the F-word.
Darren Wolfson: He has planted some seeds including with Philadelphia. Sachin Gupta has reached out to Philadelphia. He has an excellent relationship with multiple people in the Philadelphia front office, including Daryl Morey, so Gupta has established contact officially with Philadelphia to register trade interest in Ben Simmons.
Darren Wolfson: However, the same hurdles remain. Daryl Morey at some point needs to stop asking for the moon. Presumably he will. But even then there is not a sense that the Philadelphia front office has interest in who the wolves are willing to make available. Gupta, like Gersson (Rosas) is not trading Anthony Edwards, is not trading Karl-Anthony Towns. The key is to find a third team.
Chris Mannix: When I talked to different team executives, I pretty consistently hear that they are hoping the Sixers hold their ground here. Maybe Ben Simmons will never come back to Philadelphia, that seems to be the most likely way this plays out. But there were executives that I talked to that were happy that the Sixers put that 8 million-plus lump payment into escrow and effectively are using it to dock Ben Simmons' pay while he's out.
A source familiar with the conversations between Simmons' camp and the Sixers told PhillyVoice that the only consistent or clear message this offseason was about the accelerated timeline Simmons has been evaluated on compared to other No. 1 overall picks. In most instances, agent Rich Paul and others have pointed out, top picks are sent to bad teams where they can figure out who they are and how their career is going to play out.
After being fined for missing Philadelphia's preseason loss to the Toronto Raptors on Monday night — a penalty of roughly $360,000 — Simmons' representation had another discussion with the players association in which it was reiterated they would be unable to recoup the money being deducted from the $8.25 million sitting in escrow, sources say, and it was communicated to the Sixers that these early fines were perhaps higher than they expected.
The Sixers have had formal and informal discussions with Simmons' camp recently, which sources familiar with the situation characterize as scattered in message based on the day and the person speaking. As of yet, there seems to be no uniform consensus on what is best for Simmons. A source familiar with the conversations between Simmons' camp and the Sixers told PhillyVoice that the only consistent or clear message this offseason was about the accelerated timeline Simmons has been evaluated on compared to other No. 1 overall picks.
In what could be another sign that Ben Simmons is serious about not returning to the Philadelphia area, the 76ers point guard put one of his residences up for sale and according to sources discussed the possibility of selling the other one. His place at The Ritz-Carlton Residences of Philadelphia was listed on Sunday for $3.1 million.
The Sixers withheld $8.25 million of his salary Friday and placed the payment in an escrow account. Sources have said that was an option as the Sixers looked to ensure any fines for his training camp no-show and games missed could be deducted from that account moving forward.
Beginning with Monday's game against the Raptors, the Sixers plan to fine Simmons for every game -- both preseason and regular season -- that he is away from the team. For each game missed, Philadelphia will deduct roughly $360,000 from that $8.25 million placed in escrow. The fine falls under the agreement spelled out between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association in the Health and Safety Protocols, where a player who is unable to play due to "reasonable cause" will have his compensation for this season reduced by 1/91.6th (about 1.09%) of the player's base compensation for each game he misses.
In the event Simmons skips all four of the 76ers' preseason games, Simmons will lose roughly $1.4 million in fines. If he's traded, for example, on Nov. 19 -- a month into the regular season -- he will lose roughly $7.2 million in salary. This is not money Simmons can get back in the event Philadelphia eventually accedes to his wish to be traded. The team that chooses to trade for him cannot agree to pay Simmons the money he is owed in fines from Philadelphia. Instead, Simmons would only be able to get some, or all, of the fine money back by coming to a settlement with the 76ers, who would have no incentive to do so.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey went down that path recently when he cited Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ reported unhappiness in Green Bay. That squabble was a dominant storyline all summer only to see Rodgers eventually suit up and play well this season. Morey’s stance makes some sense, especially with Simmons having four years left on his deal, and sources around the league maintain that if there is one NBA executive who has the stomach to endure the outside noise and circus that can come with a prolonged standoff, it is Morey.
The 76ers are doing everything they can to maximize their championship window while Embiid is in his prime. Now sources connected to those Rockets days and that short-lived Timberwolves era wonder how ugly it will get in Philadelphia. Sources say that Simmons has no intention of showing up. The Sixers, at least for now, aren’t giving in. Will Simmons be willing to show up and make things as frontal and uncomfortable as Butler and Harden were willing to do?
Harden also said he hasn’t focused much on Ben Simmons’ situation with the 76ers, which bears obvious parallels with his own drama in Houston last season before forcing a deal to the Nets. “I stay out of it. That’s not my situation. Mine was totally different. But hey, I’m here in Brooklyn,” Harden said. “It was a little uncomfortable for me just because I don’t like a lot of attention, especially negative or draining energy.“I like to be in a good place. I like to smile and have people around me smiling and good vibes. So it was kind of a little uncomfortable for me. But I had to go through it and on the other side I’m happy to where I am now. Hopefully everybody forgot about it. Hopefully everybody moved on and everybody is great.”
The 76ers are looking for trade partners, with USA Today's Jeff Zillgitt reporting the team is "targeting" squads in the Western Conference. However, ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Friday the Indiana Pacers may emerge as a contender, calling them "the sleeper team in this whole situation" on ESPN's The Jump (2:30 mark). Simmons, 25, has been at odds with the Sixers since their loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in June. Simmons averaged just 9.9 points per game in that series, and he didn't attempt a shot in the fourth quarter of Game 7.
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.
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."
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

http://twitter.com/KyleNeubeck/status/1443638882881396736
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.
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."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eq8chbjRbnU
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.
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 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.
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.
“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).
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."
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October 23, 2021 | 1:41 pm EDT Update
October 23, 2021 | 12:42 pm EDT Update

Michele Roberts calls out Sixers GM Daryl Morey

In an exclusive statement to Yahoo Sports’ Vincent Goodwill, Roberts urged everyone to be respectful and supportive of Simmons as he works through a tough time. She also called out Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s comments about continuing this standoff with Simmons for the four remaining years of his contract. “Really? Is it so hard to believe that Ben’s not mentally at a place to compete? Professional athletes — like the rest of us — have difficult periods in our lives that require time and energy to heal. We have and will continue to provide Ben with the support and resources he needs to work through this. Threatening the prospect of ‘another four years’ serves no one’s interests. Like Tobias [Harris], I say let’s respect Ben’s space and embrace him while allowing him the time to move forward. “So, take a breath and count to 10: We are all too good to continue to play this perpetual game of chicken.”
This rumor is part of a storyline: 474 more rumors
The Wizards then flipped a draft pick for Aaron Holiday and signed Spencer Dinwiddie as part of the trade. Kuzma put on his GM hat after Friday’s game to evaluate the deal in hindsight. “I mean, you gotta do that trade 10 out of 10 times. If you have an opportunity to get five good basketball players for one, it makes sense. Granted, [Westbrook is] obviously a Hall of Fame player and everything. He’s an unbelievable player, don’t take that wrong,” Kuzma said.
Mark Medina: Lakers coach Frank Vogel taking issue with Dwight Howard and Klay Thompson not being on NBA Top 75 list. Vogel called it “surreal” that LeBron, AD, Westbrook and Melo are all on the list

Storyline: NBA's 75 Greatest Players