76ers president Daryl Morey said he wouldn’t trade Ben Simmons… then offered Simmons to the Rockets for James Harden. After Philadelphia lost in the second round of the playoffs, 76ers coach Doc Rivers said he didn’t know whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team.
Now, Simmons is threatening to hold out until traded.
Apparently, Simmons’ camp blames those comments from Morey and Rivers for the situation devolving.
Keith Pompey of The Inquirer on 97.5 The Fanatic Philadelphia:
They’re saying to themselves, “Why should we help the 76ers out?” when they feel like, when Doc Rivers said what he said, no one apologized. Doc Rivers wasn’t reprimanded by the team or this and that. Or there’s an organization where, in the preseason last year, when they were saying they weren’t trying to trade him, but everyone knew they were trying to trade him.
Simmons would be absolutely reasonable to resent Morey, who has a history of lying publicly to downplay tension. It has often worked, buying time while keeping players on Morey’s team content. Then, once a trade happens and exposes the lie, the player is someone else’s problem.
Except Morey hasn’t traded Simmons yet.
So, this time, it’s Morey’s problem.
As far as Rivers’ comment… it’s tough to trust everything has been properly construed along the line from Simmons to someone in his camp to Pompey to a radio audience with possible additional links in the chain. But if Simmons truly wanted Rivers reprimanded, that speaks to just how coddled Simmons has been.
Reprimanded for what? Saying he doesn’t know whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team? How could anyone know that at this point? Though maybe criticizing Simmons after pumping him up all season wasn’t the best tact strategically, Rivers was at least being honest after losing Game 7 to the Hawks. Despite all his strengths, Simmons’ shooting flaws are a real impediment in the playoffs. The coach shouldn’t face punishment for saying that.
It’s on Simmons to improve.
Simmons also apparently wants Philadelphia to trade him.
Reporting to training camp and showing he has improved is one way to expedite a deal. That’d increase other teams’ interest, maybe close enough to the 76ers’ asking price.
But pressuring Philadelphia with a holdout is another way to provoke a trade. As the 76ers lose leverage, they might lower their asking price.
Rivers’ and Morey’s comments apparently had something to do with Simmons taking the latter route.