But what if Simmons balks at playing this season? How much pressure will Philadelphia apply this time?
I just got off the phone with somebody who I really trust in the NBA, and he’s like there’s no way his agent is going to let him play this year. That’s an injury that you don’t mess around with, and he thinks he’s going to keep him off his feet all year.
On one hand, the 76ers can withstand losing Simmons for the year, because they’ll stink regardless. This would at least improve their lottery position.
On the other hand, Simmons is the preeminent source of optimism as the team tries to shake its losing reputation. Philadelphia wants its fans to see him on the court.
The long-term concerns are much greater. There were already major questions about Simmons’ attitude after he dogged it at LSU. Yes, Simmons was stuck playing for a mediocre team at a below-market rate. But that also applies to him on the 76ers.
Paul’s job is to look out for Simmons’ best interests, and that might be the case here. There’s no sense risking repeated injury until Simmons foot is completely healed. But Simmons also needs the proper mental approach going forward, and sitting out once healthy could stifle that.