And today on “As the 76ers Turn…”
Following reports that Ben Simmons had not spoken to his 76ers teammates in weeks and plans to hold out of training camp, a number of teammates wanted to fly out and talk with him in person but were told not by members of the Simmons camp not to bother, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Philadelphia 76ers players wanted to travel to Los Angeles this week to meet with Ben Simmons and spend time convincing their All-Star teammate to commit to the 2021-22 season with them, but they were informed not to come and that Simmons did not want to meet, sources tell The Athletic.
The core leaders on the 76ers — such as Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle — and most of the team were set to take a jet to see Simmons before being turned away, sources said. Multiple sources said Simmons didn’t want his teammates, some of whom he considers friends, to make the Philadelphia-to-Los Angeles commute out of courtesy because he won’t change his mind on wanting a trade.
All this leaves the Simmons saga in the same holding pattern it has been in for weeks, but now with the 76ers media day on Monday and training camp starting Tuesday. League sources have told NBC Sports that trade talk around Simmons has been very quiet in recent weeks, with teams’ rosters basically set for the season and no changes in any offers.
The pressure on Philadelphia is that this could be a contending team. They had the best record in the East last season and have an MVP-level player in Joel Embiid (when he is healthy). The veterans on the 76ers realize how rare that opportunity is and understandably don’t want to squander the chance, which is why they wanted to talk to Simmons.
However, Simmons is locked into his plan: he will not attend training camp, he will pay the coming fines, and hope that puts pressure on Sixers GM Daryl Morey to trade him. It is Simmons’ only real leverage; he has four years, $147 million remaining on his current contract, threats of leaving in free agency carry little weight.
Morey and the 76ers have tried to trade Simmons but also understand this is their one chance to revamp the roster and put a true contender around Embiid. With that, Morey has asked for a Harden-like trade bounty — an All-Star level player plus multiple first-round picks — while other teams see Simmons trade value as being at an all-time low following his playoff struggles and are not putting their best players into offers.
That has led to an ugly standoff where both sides try to make the other uncomfortable and see who blinks first. This is not setting up to be a quick battle but more of a siege that could drag well into the season.