The draft compensation involved in any eventual Simmons trade figures to be a difference-making variable, but the Raptors have the base talent to outbid numerous teams (if they choose) when Philadelphia finally reaches the point that it concedes it is no longer tenable to hold out for a star on Lillard’s or Beal’s level. Rather than pursue a swap centered around Pascal Siakam, it is easier to see Philadelphia trying to push to acquire a rising star capable of replicating Simmons’ versatility — namely OG Anunoby — who can be packaged with a playoff-tested veteran ballhandler to give the Sixers’ backcourt a needed boost (Goran Dragić).
That’s not to say Toronto would be willing. Simmons' tumultuous first week back with the Sixers hasn’t exactly enhanced his punctured trade value and word is that Masai Ujiri, Morey’s Toronto counterpart, “loves” Anunoby, who is poised to take a major step in the post-Kyle Lowry era given the potential he has already flashed as a defender, playmaker and shooter. Surrendering Anunoby at this pivotal stage of his development might be too painful for the Raptors, even if they are tantalized by the opportunity to relaunch Simmons’ career. I’m just saying Morey will try.
One league source told me trade talks regarding Simmons have been quiet to this point. Philadelphia still wants him back, and they think he’s their best chance of winning right now, but clearly, Joel Embiid is over it. He was talking about how they can’t be “babysitting” someone. They’ve never been that tight, so I can see now how Embiid is done with this.
The 76ers are not trying to move Simmons and have made clear that they will not deal him at this time, according to sources. The franchise wants Simmons to show up to practices and games, to be engaged and to perform to his capabilities. Simmons is not against playing, but he is not mentally ready yet, sources insist.
In Simmons’ first meeting with team personnel last week, a meeting that included Rivers, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand, sources said Simmons reiterated that he was not mentally ready to rejoin the team after the past several months. The past several months, of course, included Rivers and Joel Embiid criticizing him after the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Rivers, Morey and Brand asked Simmons to be present, expecting the situation to be back to normal, but it still isn’t.
Ramona Shelburne: Silver says he doesn’t think this is a particularly new issue in the league. If anything there are “fewer” situations than earlier in his career, whether it be holdouts, not wanting to play for a team that drafts them, or requesting trades.
The Timberwolves remain highly motivated to pursue Simmons, league sources say, while they remain realistic that any trade would likely require at least three teams to meet the Sixers’ asking price.
The Sixers are throwing all their short-term energy into trying to get Simmons back in a Philly uniform now that he has reported to the team. One source close to the process indicated Friday that things are indeed trending toward Simmons playing again for the Sixers despite his well-chronicled desire to leave the organization for good and start fresh elsewhere. How soon that actually happens, though, depends on Simmons’ conditioning as much as his engagement level, given that he’s three weeks behind his teammates.
Ramona Shelburne: Ben Simmons will not play in tonight’s preseason finale in Detroit as he reconditions, sources told ESPN. He did not travel with the Sixers, but he has cleared health and safety protocols and is eligible to rejoin the team.
The list of known teams that have engaged with Philadelphia on Simmons trade talks has expanded to nine. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer this week named Houston and Detroit as confirmed suitors to add to the clutch of teams discussed for some time now (Cleveland, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and Toronto).
As the season approaches, The Stadium and The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports that Simmons’ stance has not changed despite also meeting with coach Doc Rivers and having taken a physical. Also, the Sixers still remain enamored by going after Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard. Shams: The Sixers would love to get him back on the floor, but I’m told there really isn’t any change as far as where he stands mentally. I think he’s wanted a trade. I think, mentally, that hasn’t changed, and so, it’s still not clear where he stands with the organization. He’s met with Doc Rivers, Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, I’ve been told some of those meetings have gone pretty short.
Present-day, there's still plenty of interest in Simmons around the league, from teams like the Pacers and Timberwolves who have been inquiring about him for most of the offseason. Recent reports have turned up names like Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert, for example, but sources say the names floated in those talks came primarily from Indiana's end, with the Sixers never expressing much interest in a Pacers deal or even registering serious talks.
While waiting for Simmons to clear protocols and rejoin the team in earnest, the Sixers have only been able to put him through individual workouts and conduct meetings away from the larger group. And the early returns have not been especially encouraging — one source described Simmons as "going through the motions," though it was noted that things have improved each day over the few days he has been here.
Given the circumstances and the client history of Rich Paul (whose disgruntled players have ranged from Eric Bledsoe to Anthony Davis), this has come as no surprise to the organization. But if the trend continues and Simmons' dissatisfaction takes center stage on the floor in a Sixers uniform, there will be debate about how it impacts the team and whether it puts pressure on them to get a deal done sooner rather than later.
Critically, the Sixers believe they have the buy-in of Joel Embiid to carry out this strategy. In spite of the distance between the two over the summer and the shade cast in both directions through public interviews and leaked reports, Embiid ultimately just wants to win, and has expressed a desire to get Simmons in the fold and working toward contending. If Simmons proves stubborn or uninterested in doing so, the team believes Embiid is onboard with not settling for a trade just to be done with the problem altogether.
People around the organization have noted changes in him as a leader and voice in the locker room, with Embiid ready and willing to work with whatever (and whoever) they have if a quick resolution doesn't happen.
Count 76ers managing partner Josh Harris among those pleased that Ben Simmons has returned to Philadelphia. During a pre-recorded opening keynote conversation as part of the Financial Times’ Business of Sport U.S. Summit, Harris said he is “super happy that Ben is back” and implied that he expects the All-Star point guard to play for the Sixers this season despite holding out for nearly two weeks because of a trade demand.
Philadelphia's loftier sights remain set on Lillard and Bradley Beal possibly growing dissatisfied in Portland and Washington, respectively, sources said. A far larger pool of players also become trade-eligible on December 15, then incorporating most of the newly-signed players from this past offseason. It seems the chances of any Simmons trade, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation, will grow significantly larger in late December than anytime soon, barring any change in a rival team's circumstances.
There is a 10th “mystery” franchise that has held substantial trade conversations with Philadelphia of late, sources told B/R, yet it remains unclear, even to members of Klutch Sports, who this purported additional suitor is. No team, however, has come near Morey and the Sixers' firm asking price for Simmons, with simultaneous goals to further their championship contention around Embiid and remain in play to some day acquire a potentially available superstar—either from Portland or Washington, or some other unexpected franchise that will eventually arise.
If it takes five steps for two teams to complete a trade, it's been described to B/R that no conversation with Philadelphia has truly advanced past step one. Few talks actually generated formal offers, and Philadelphia has informed most teams their best path to acquiring Simmons is in a three-team structure, sources said.
Simmons naysayers around the NBA have pointed to his arrival coming only after the cost of the 25-year-old's holdout reached roughly $1 million in fines and missed game checks, yet two sources with knowledge of his thinking maintained Simmons was always prepared to forfeit money ahead of training camp, and it consistently loomed as a possibility the All-Star would report to Philadelphia in time for the regular season if he was not yet traded, with an expectation of being able to recoup a portion of his docked payments.
That physical, and Wednesday's first practice session, are just the beginning of several phases the Sixers have planned for reintegrating Simmons into their team environment. The team has individual film and weight training sessions planned. Philadelphia has consulted with various sports psychologists in the previous weeks, and the team believes it has bolstered the resources Simmons has available to improve his game, particularly by hiring a new shooting and skills coach. It would seem likely that Philadelphia will make a concerted effort to clear the air with Simmons and his teammates, particularly Joel Embiid.
In this most recent sit-down, as was the case during that August gathering, Morey and Rivers once again asked Simmons for his reasoning for seeking a trade elsewhere. While the overwhelming majority of communication between Klutch and Philadelphia this summer has persisted between Paul, Morey and Brand, sources said, Simmons has only directly mentioned a general interest in a new start, sources said. And on Tuesday, Simmons didn't explain why he chose to report this week, either.
For that, dating back to those Combine dialogues, Philadelphia was adamant in its plans to withhold Simmons' pay for not complying with the terms of the five-year, $170-plus million agreement he signed in July 2019. Later, at Paul's home, Rivers even shouted, “It's in your f--king contract” to report and play for Philadelphia, sources told B/R.
But by all accounts, the head coach, a former point guard, has never managed to build a strong rapport with Simmons. Perhaps that's due to the additional demands coaches typically place on their nominal floor generals, or it may simply be a case of two differing personalities in a competitive industry failing to mesh.
Philadelphia, at one measure, instead hired Simmons' brother as a shooting coach, who proceeded to lead Simmons through pregame, on-floor workouts. But then the All-Star started posting frequent videos on Instagram of them seemingly training at the practice facility late in the evenings, without other Sixers personnel present, which irked several members of the coaching staff, sources told B/R.
Derek Bodner: Doc Rivers, asked whether he thinks Ben Simmons came back to play: "I'm assuming he's going to play, but who knows. I can't get into anyone's head."
Keith Pompey: #Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who met with Ben Simmons twice yesterday, hasn’t ruled out the point guard joining the team Friday in Detroit. The Sixers play the Pistons that night in their final preseason game. Simmons clears protocol that day.
NBA Central: Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Minnesota, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio and Toronto have all remained engaged with Philadelphia on trade talks centered around Ben Simmons, per @Jake Fischer pic.twitter.com/lMYQGUKFLk
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons passed his physical and held a meeting with the team's front office on Tuesday, but he remains ineligible to participate in team-related activities until Friday, at the earliest, due to NBA health and safety protocols, sources told ESPN. Simmons met with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand -- his first conversation with them since August -- in a meeting sources described only as "brief."
One thing is for sure — at least for now. While an Irving trade for Ben Simmons with Philadelphia is seen by some as an easy solution to both teams’ problems, sources with knowledge of the 76ers’ view said there is no interest in Irving at the moment. From management on down, it seems there is an unsurprising level of skepticism about that pairing working out any better than the Joel Embiid-Simmons duo that is zombified at the moment.
Now to be clear, Simmons’ camp has not scratched Brooklyn off its list of potential get-out-of-Philadelphia scenarios. They still see it as a possibility — however remote. As we chronicled in a recent roundtable, it’s still widely believed that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is holding out for either Portland’s Damian Lillard or Washington’s Bradley Beal (I would posit, by the way, that Lillard is all by himself when it comes to the Sixers’ dream targets).
Chris Mannix: The Sixers have made it abundantly clear that they aren't dealing Ben Simmons anytime soon. They have spoken to teams about Ben Simmons. I'm told none of the offers for Simmons said have been even close to what they were looking for
Darren Wolfson: Gupta has officially reached out to Philadelphia. Philadelphia is well aware of Gupta's interest, but the same hurdles remain. But make no mistake about this: the sense is there's not a team in the NBA that wants Ben Simmons more than the Wolves.
Sam Amick: What I was told was that if (Ben Simmons returns), you're not going to get a guy who was mentally engaged, you're not going to get a guy who's invested. Of course, he would talk to his teammates, because he cares about teammates in general. But, you know, the inference was like, 'Good luck in communication with anybody else.' Now, he and Elton brand have a good relationship. That's the one connection point he still has with the franchise. Beyond that, I just I don't think there's any loyalties anywhere.
Keith Pompey: Sources say Ben Simmons took his required physical today for the #Sixers. His playing status for this season is too be determined. Simmons can't be around teammates for 5 days due to the NBA's COVID-19 protocol. So he won't travel to Friday's preseason finale at the #Pistons.
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.
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.
After staying away for two weeks to start the NBA preseason, 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons reported to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday night -- much to the surprise of an organization that had expected him later in the week, sources told ESPN.
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.
Derek Bodner: Doc Rivers, on the progression towards Ben Simmons returning to the team. "We've said from Day 1 what we wanted, that we wanted him back." Rivers says he hasn't spoken Simmons directly, just Rich Paul. Said they've always had good conversations.
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.
Keith Pompey: As expected, Ben Simmons just put his Moorestown house on the market, according to sources.
Keith Pompey: #Sixers guard @FurkanKorkmaz talks about the possibility on Ben Simmons returning to the team in the near future.
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.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sixers officials and Klutch CEO Rich Paul have progressed in talks over recent days on a resolution to bring All-Star Ben Simmons back to Philadelphia in the near future, sources tell ESPN. Discussions are ongoing.
Adrian Wojnarowski: The plan remains for the Sixers to continue canvassing the league for trades, but the possibility of Simmons reporting to the team has increased in recent days, sources tell ESPN.
Shams Charania: The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, have been working around the clock over the last few days on a resolution to have the three-time All-Star return to market, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
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.
Shams Charania: Sources tell me that Bеn Simmons has emptied his home in Philadelphia and has had his belongings all packed and moved out, and the place will soon go up for sale.
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.
Shams Charania: "The 76ers continue to hope that Ben Simmons reports to the team and rejoins the roster as soon as possibe, as one source told me. It's a waiting game."
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.
League sources confirm that the Pacers are among the teams who have talked to the Philadelphia 76ers about a potential Simmons trade. Caris LeVert was among the players brought up in those communications, per SNY sources. It is unknown if talks between Philadelphia and Indiana have progressed beyond run-of-the-mill contact.
Indiana is among several teams who have expressed interest in trading for Simmons, as reported earlier by The Philadelphia Inquirer. The Sacramento Kings are also among that group of teams, per sources. Simmons is holding out of training camp and still has no plans to play for the Sixers in the immediate future.
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.
Sources added if he decides to sell his Moorestown home he could list for $4.9 million. He paid around $2.275 million for the South Jersey home that needed some work. Simmons purchased his place at the Ritz for $2.54 million in 2018.
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.
Anyway, Ben Simmons‘ agent, Rich Paul, told the 76ers early in the offseason the star wanted to be traded. Keith Pompey of The Inquirer: "The Sixers asked why Simmons wanted out, and Paul informed them that the point guard was mentally exhausted. The source believes they didn’t pay attention to Simmons’ state of mind or feelings about being in Philly because of the four years remaining on his contract."
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."
November 27, 2021 | 9:00 pm EST Update
Ohm Youngmisuk: Nic Batum remains in health and safety protocols and will be out tomorrow against Golden State.