The Real Reason Ben Simmons Doesn’t Want to Play in Philly
Sixers media day has come and gone; the team with open its Camden practice facility today to the start of training camp with no sign of Ben Simmons showing up.
But have we really seen the end of Simmons's tenure in Philadelphia?
"This is going to be a topic of discussion in every new city we go into," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said on Monday. "I think our guys are ready for it."
While his agent, Rich Paul, has told the team his client wants to be traded, the team reiterated on Monday that they want him back.
"Ben is a very good player and a big part of this team," Morey stated. "We're disappointed he's not here, we're excited about the player who is here, and we're gonna focus on them."
This all started right after the season ended, as Tom Moore of the Bucks County Courier Times told us last Thursday on The Sports Bash when Simmons' team asked the Sixers to trade the three-time all-star and first-team All-NBA defender.
"Let me give you some background," explained Sixers President Daryl Morey. "They came to us and asked for a trade shortly after the season in Chicago. We were not looking to trade him - He's a multi-time all-star, defensive player of the year.
With Simmons not here to answer questions, his teammates were flooded with questions about their relationship with their AWOL teammate.
Of course, we want him back," Joel Embiid declared. He's a big piece of what we have been building that last few years. Obviously, there is a lot of stuff that has happened.
But is the relationship beyond repair?
Between the comments from Rivers, Embiid, and of course facing the Philly fans, it appears Simmons simply would rather move on and start over.
"Everybody knows Philly is a tough city," Embiid explained. "They love sports; they are going to tell you how it is. I love it, I personally don't have any problems with it, but not everybody is built the same."
As I have stated in the past, Simmons's issues aren't with his teammates' comments; he doesn't want to face the Philly fans.
In my opinion, Simmons realizes that a large portion of the fan base is fed up with his lack of development and aggression in his offensive game and his poor free-throw shooting. He understands that they are not going to accept his game as is and knows his game still hasn't evolved and isn't prepared to face the fans -- so he wants out.
While I have been supportive of Simmons as a player, I acknowledge that he could offer a lot more offensively while still appreciating him as an important piece on a championship-level team.
Make no mistake about it; if the Sixers do, in fact, make the decision to trade Simmons, outside of landing a player like Dame Lillard or Bradley Beal, the team will suffer from losing what he brings to the table. Losing Simmons's defense, getting teammates' open looks, and his ability on the open floor will be very difficult to replace.
While Simmons frustrates with his lack of aggression and shot on the offensive side of the floor, he makes Seth Curry and Danny Green, and Tobias Harris more valuable players.
Defenses collapse on Simmons, and he always finds the open man, giving them wide-open looks. With Simmons off the floor, those looks aren't quite as open. He leads the league is assisted 3-points made on a team that hasn't been a very good 3-point shooting team during his tenure.
Since being drafted, the team is a mediocre 17-17 (.500) when Simmons doesn't play and 178-97 (.647) when he does suit up. When Embiid and Simmons play together, the team is 144-63 (.696).
"I really hope he changes his mind," Embiid stated. "I do love playing with him because he adds so much to our team."
I have stated all along that Simmons and his team have handled this situation extremely poorly. I'm not sure I see him putting his tail between his legs and showing up to play for the Sixers at any point, which would have tremendous financial ramifications.
Morey hinted that fines would be coming, telling reporters that it’s “very clearly spelled out” in both Simmons’ contract and the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement.
"The situation is what it is," Tobias Harris stated. "We start training camp, and I don't think he is coming through that door."