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.
Since that telltale Oct. 22 meeting with Rivers and his teammates, sources say that Simmons has been engaged around the team in the facility and at home shootarounds. He has been conducting one-on-none workouts, participating in intense shooting drills with teammate Tyrese Maxey and receiving back treatment from the training staff. Simmons is also receiving help from mental health professionals, a process he began during the offseason, according to sources. Given that Simmons has been at odds with the 76ers, it’s clear the trust must be built before he delves into the personal matters of his mental state with them. Sources added that Simmons has informed the franchise for months that he is not feeling mentally ready, but that the organization has insisted on attempts to get him to play again.
The Philadelphia 76ers fined All-Star guard Ben Simmons his $360,000 game salary for missing Thursday night's victory over the Detroit Pistons and plan to continue fining him until he cooperates with team physicians on his mental health issues and fulfills other basketball-related obligations, sources told ESPN on Friday.
The Sixers will again place Simmons' future salary into an escrow account, sources said. Earlier this season, the Sixers released Simmons' money from escrow after he had been initially cooperative on a path toward returning to play.
Simmons has been showing up regularly at the team's facility for some daily basketball activity with coaches and individual teammates, but the Sixers will begin fining him again for failures to participate in other requirements, such as strength training, film study and some presence at team practices and game-day shootarounds, sources said.
Shams Charania: Sources: 76ers president Daryl Morey approached All-Star Ben Simmons today about his return to game action, but Simmons restated that he is not yet mentally ready to play and is continuing to seek professional help. There’s no timetable on Simmons‘ return to the floor.
Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson 📍: Ben Simmons has not played a game as a 76er this season & former Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson tells @BallySports that he knows how passionate Philly fans are. “When you’re doing good and you’re working hard for them they love you.”
Anthony Slater: There are people within the building that would be intrigued by the idea. There’s definitely a contingent that asks how will that fit with Draymond? Simmons could fit in the Warriors’ read-and-react style, but he’d make the most sense in the Draymond role as the pick-and-roll guy with Curry. What matters most is that the guy up top, Joe Lacob, has literally been fined for giving his opinion about not believing in Simmons’ fit with the Warriors. If you talk to him behind the scenes on or off the record, he’s transparent that he’s not giving up the young guys, particularly for a flawed type of star like Simmons. It would have to be a home-run type of thing for them to move off Wiseman or Kuminga.
The Philadelphia 76ers are increasingly frustrated with Ben Simmons' refusal to accept organizational assistance to address his mental readiness to play, sources told ESPN. While Simmons has been working with team doctors to treat a back ailment, he has been unwilling to meet with team doctors to discuss his mental readiness, sources said. Instead, sources said, Simmons has worked with mental health professionals via the National Basketball Players Association since the summer. So far Simmons has yet to provide details of those meetings to the team, sources said.
On a regular basis at the team's Camden, New Jersey practice facility, Simmons has engaged with teammates and members of the coaching staff in one-on-one scenarios but has not advanced to rejoin full team activities and it's unclear when or if he will. The Sixers remain eager to help Simmons address his mental readiness so he can return to the team. There's uncertainty whether he's progressing with that same objective, sources said.
Darren Wolfson: (Wolves GM) Sachin Gupta has not even reached out to Philadelphia about Ben Simmons for a couple of weeks. Yes, about three and a half, four weeks ago he did plant the seed with the Philadelphia front office that, 'Yeah, I'm interested in Ben Simmons,' but I'm now told he hasn't had any dialogue about Ben Simmons with Philadelphia for a couple weeks.
Australian NBA star Ben Simmons has put his lavish mansion in New Jersey on the market. The contemporary five-bedroom property, which is located in the upscale township of Moorestown, currently has an asking price of AUD $6,676,248 (USD $4,999,999), according to Zillow.
Marc Stein: The Sixers have stopped fining Ben Simmons for missed games and practices given that he is now out for personal reasons, one source close to the situation says, confirming a report this afternoon from @Ramona Shelburne on the NBA Today. More from me: marcstein.substack.com
Although league sources concur that no Simmons trade is imminent and that Morey is likely to wait until after Dec. 15 when more players are eligible to be dealt leaguewide before he pursues a deal with greater intent, we should also note that he vowed to take a so-called gap year with family members after his abrupt departure from the Houston Rockets in October 2020. Morey accepted the Sixers’ offer to take over their front office two weeks later.
Some executives still believe the Warriors could make sense if they decided to pursue Simmons. “If Golden State went after him, I think he’d fit in there really well,” one executive told HoopsHype. “Can you imagine him with those shooters out there, and he’s playing defense, rebounding and pushing the ball, running, gunning, and finishing? He’d flourish in their style of play.”
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.”
When asked if Simmons intends to remain with the team moving forward, a league source said it’s up to the Sixers. Rivers said he wants him around. “He is part of the team,” the coach said. “I don’t know how many times I can say that. We have certain rules. Obviously, the other day that didn’t happen. But today was a good day. “And I think ... most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities. I think if we focus on the possibilities in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place.”
Sources said Simmons told Sixers brass he was mentally exhausted when asked why he no longer wanted to return to the team. “So Kevin Love, everybody else can tell you about their mental exhaustion, and you pay attention to it,” the source said. “But in this case, you don’t pay attention to it, because he got four years left on his deal.”
However, a team source refuted that. The source said the first time Simmons communicated his mental exhaustion was this week. On Friday, the Sixers communicated to Simmons and his representation that he’ll have access to whatever resources he may need while managing this situation.
Shams Charania: Sources say Joel Embiid today asked 76ers co-star Ben Simmons the question: Why do you want a trade? Simmons responded that he isn’t feeling mentally himself and needs time to get right. Details:
NBA Central: Adrian Wojnarowski says Ben Simmons’ situation in Philadelphia could last a full year “I don't think [the 76ers will] go four years, but I do think they'd go a full year of doing this.” 😬 (Via @GetUpESPN ) pic.twitter.com/3eOiS0fH2m
Amid more drama with the Philadelphia 76ers, embattled NBA guard Ben Simmons has listed his New Jersey mansion for $4.9 million, leading most to continue their belief that his relationship with the team is kaput.
Derek Bodner: Daryl Morey on @975TheFanatic: "Would you rather eliminate what people perceive to be a distraction, or would you rather have better playoff odds? I'll take playoff odds... Whatever we have to deal with that helps the Philadelphia 76ers win the title, we'll do it."
Kyle Neubeck: Morey: “You’re going to think I’m kidding, I’m not, this could take four years…we’re in the prime of Joel’s career…this is not a day to day [issue}]. Every day, we are going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here, or we trade him for a difference maker.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: All-Star guard Ben Simmons is expected to come early to the 76ers shootaround on Friday morning to discuss his playing status with organizational leadership, sources tell ESPN. Sixers play the Nets on ESPN and team is still hopeful that Simmons will participate in shootaround.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: All-Star Ben Simmons arrived and departed the 76ers practice facility today without taking part in a scheduled individual workout. His status for Friday night's game vs. Brooklyn (ESPN, 7:30 PM) is unclear. As a team, the Sixers had no practice today.
Ohm Youngmisuk: Patty Mills says he hasn't spoken to fellow Aussie Ben Simmons recently. "[We're] close in certain things and obviously his journey has gone the path that it has watching from afar. With national team stuff we've come quite close. As a fellow countrymen, you always wish the best"
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.
May 19, 2022 | 8:48 pm EDT Update
Shams Charania: Sources: J. Cole is signing contract with the Scarborough Shooting Stars (@sss_cebl) in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, the rap star’s second consecutive year playing professionally. CEBL training camp began this week, with season opener on May 26.