Because Simmons resents Philadelphia president Daryl Morey saying he saying he wouldn’t trade Simmons then offering Simmons to the Rockets for James Harden? Because Simmons was bothered by 76ers coach Doc Rivers saying he didn’t know whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team? Because Simmons no longer wants to play with Joel Embiid? Because Simmons just felt mentally exhausted and underappreciated?
A source familiar with the conversations between Simmons’ camp and the Sixers told PhillyVoice that the only consistent or clear message this offseason was about the accelerated timeline Simmons has been evaluated on compared to other No. 1 overall picks. In most instances, agent Rich Paul and others have pointed out, top picks are sent to bad teams where they can figure out who they are and how their career is going to play out. Having missed his first year out of LSU due to injury, Simmons joined Embiid to form a partnership capable of winning 50 games right away, and the Sixers have been considered contenders (or at least pseudo contenders) at various points during the last three seasons, increasing scrutiny on his development.
Keep in mind: Many people want to frame Simmons’ exit from Philadelphia. Some of them want to cast Simmons in a negative light.
This certainly accomplishes that.
Simmons could ask Pelicans big Zion Williamson (zero postseason appearances in two seasons) or Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (one playoff appearance and one playoff game won in six seasons) whether they’d swap circumstances. Former Pelicans big Anthony Davis (one playoff appearance and zero playoff games won in his first five seasons) might have thoughts, too.
The 76ers being too good, too quickly would be an odd gripe. Yes, that has come with pressure. But Simmons – the 2018 Rookie of the Year – entered the NBA ready to contribute to winning. His early success, both team and individual, got him onto three All-Star teams and earned him a super-max contract extension.
Simmons played like he didn’t need unearned minutes on a loser just to develop.
Yet, his offense has since regressed. Maybe now that’s exactly what he needs.
On the other hand: He’s 25.
Yes, Simmons starting his career on a winner was unusual for a No. 1 pick. But I suspect he appreciated that until seeking excuses now. It’s also unclear what, at this stage, anyone should do about his rare early-career situation.