The Philadelphia 76ers‘ Media Day on Monday was focused on one topic: Ben Simmons. The All-Star guard made it known that he wouldn’t be showing up to Media Day or training camp, and is choosing to stay away from the team until a trade is made for him. While Simmons wasn’t there to answer a bunch of questions about all the trade rumors and tension that transpired within the Sixers organization over the summer, everyone was asked about him.
Team president Daryl Morey said the team had “a lot of hope” that things would get smoothed over with Simmons. Head coach Doc Rivers cleared the air about his comments following the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, and stressed he was not saying Simmons isn’t a championship-caliber point guard. Franchise centerpiece Joel Embiid spoke fondly of Simmons, saying he and Simmons were closer last season than ever before. Embiid also said he hopes the All-Defensive guard changes his mind and rejoins the team.
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As heartfelt as all of the comments may have seemed to everyone else, Simmons apparently isn’t feeling it. According to The Athletic’s Sam Amick, the messages by the team “fell flat,” and Morey’s specific example of comparing Simmons’ situation to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was seen as “laughable and out of touch.”
Well that certainly isn’t what the Sixers want to hear, but even more, Amick reports that Simmons doesn’t want to play with Embiid anymore:
“People who have intimate knowledge of how he sees this situation continue to insist that he’s done playing with Embiid. There’s nothing personal about this choice, it seems, but the 25-year-old Simmons has clearly decided that his career is better off without Embiid blocking the runways in the paint that he so badly needs to succeed.
As he sees it, sources say, the organization’s choice to build its basketball ecosystem around Embiid’s style simply isn’t conducive to the way he needs to play. So while Embiid insisted to reporters on Monday that he wants Simmons back, this much is clear: The feeling is not mutual.”
It makes all the sense in the world for Simmons to not want to play with Embiid from a stylistic standpoint. Simmons notoriously isn’t comfortable taking jump shots of any kind, and is elite at attacking the rim. That can’t happen with Embiid clogging the paint. We saw just how much of a problem that became against the Hawks when Simmons turned away open jump shots, and even a crucial wide-open dunk in Game 7 against the Atlanta Hawks, the latter of which was pointed out by Embiid after the loss.
The fit between Embiid and Simmons has been a talking point for the last couple seasons, and it sounds like instead of continuing to run it back with the same results, Simmons would prefer to join a team better suited for his talents. Now the Sixers and Simmons play the waiting game to see which side caves first. It seems pretty clear that Simmons has no intentions on re-joining the team, but Philadelphia’s asking price for a trade hasn’t been met by anyone in the league. This could be an issue that drags out into the regular season if it isn’t resolved soon.