76ers president Daryl Morey said of the Ben Simmons situation, “People should buckle in. This is going to go a long time.”
That seemed like an important warning. The daily drama Simmons invites can be exhausting. The NBA trade deadline is more than five months away.
But that undersells Morey’s patience.
Morey on 97.5 The Fanatic, via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
“You guys think I’m kidding,” he said. “I’m not. This could be four years. The conditions that I’m pointing out to you don’t change. Unless Ben Simmons is traded for a difference maker, we’re in the prime of (Joel Embiid‘s) career. We have to get back either Ben Simmons playing well for us, who helps us win the championship, or we have to get back a difference maker for Ben Simmons — or this could be four years from now and we’re still like, hey, we took the best shot at it we could.
“So this could be four years. This is not a day-to-day thing. This is every day we’re going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here, or we’re trading him for a difference maker. There’s no other outcome that doesn’t materially hurt our chance to win the championship in Joel Embiid’s prime.”
“This is a very good player, and to give ourselves the best chance to win the title, you need difference makers. You don’t need role players. Right now any sort of trade — which obviously Ben Simmons wants — the best thing we can do is get role players back. That makes no sense. That will gives us no better chance to win the title, if we were to move Ben Simmons for role players.
To the extent Morey isn’t bluffing, this is telling about his lack of faith in the current available roster. There’s a case the 76ers – with Joel Embiid, a supporting cast moderately upgraded from a Simmons trade and all the right breaks – could win a championship.
Obviously, Philadelphia would need fewer breaks if trading Simmons for a star. But right now, no star is available for Simmons. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on Embiid’s prime.
And the four seasons left on Simmons’ contract.
I strongly suspect Simmons will get traded before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2025. But Morey is at least posturing strongly.