Honestly, it’s been pretty normal. He hasn’t really been around the team at all, so it’s not like it’s been a distraction or anything. It’s kind of like he’s been out and not here. We know who we have on our team to start the season. Obviously, if he comes back, we’re going to integrate him. He’s been part of the team for a long time, so it shouldn’t be that hard.
It seems highly unlikely the 76ers will be integrating Simmons in the lineup anytime soon. He remains away from the team saying he is not mentally ready to play, and the Sixers have resumed fining him for not playing a part in team activities (he has not traveled with the Sixers on this road trip).
Where do things stand with a Ben Simmons trade? Stagnant. As sources have told NBC Sports has been the case for a couple of months now.
Sam Amick of The Athletic updated the Simmons trade saga Thursday and here are the takeaways:
• The 76ers have a list of about 30 players they would be open to trading Simmons for.
A source with knowledge of the list said there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, and there’s an internal belief that a fair amount of them — let’s say five to 10 — could become available in the next year or two.
• Wait a second… did that source say a year or two? Yes.
The framing of the timeline, more than anything else, speaks volumes about the long-term approach the Sixers insist they’re taking. “This is like a multi-year thing,” a Sixers source said.
• Simmons, understandably, does not want to wait years and his people recently reiterated a trade demand to the 76ers.
• Simmons also has no intention of playing a game again for the 76ers, even as the team fines him and pushes him to return to basketball activities with the team (even if he is not suiting up for games). Remember his agent Rich Paul said last week, “this is no longer about a trade,” and he was focused on the mental health of Simmons.
• Is Simmons sitting out due to mental health issues hurting his trade value?
In the absence of a Simmons return, sources say, the Sixers’ belief is rival teams have grown even less motivated than before about making a move for Simmons because of the escalating uncertainty that surrounds him. If his mental health struggles aren’t solely the product of his Sixers experience, in other words, then who’s to say it will be any different somewhere else? From this standpoint, it’s not hard to find rival executives who confirm these suspicions.
So to sum it all up, the 76ers continue to demand an “impact player” back in any Simmons trade, but the GMs of other teams look at Simmons right now and have concerns about whether he is ready to play, so they are not offering anything close to what Sixer GM Daryl Morey demands.
Until something upends that dynamic, the situation will remain stagnant.
At this point, if the Simmons saga drags out beyond the Feb. 10 trade deadline, will anyone be surprised?