The Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia has reached an official breaking point. Simmons recently told the 76ers that he wants a trade and will not report to training camp, according to Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
In a meeting with the 76ers last week in Los Angeles, Simmons told team co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers that he no longer wants to remain a Sixer, according to multiple sources.
Sources said the three-time All-Star also does not intend to report to training camp.
A team spokesman declined to comment.
Simmons’ future with the team has been in serious doubt ever since the Sixers collapsed in the second round of the 2021 playoffs and lost to the Atlanta Hawks. During that series, Simmons’ offensive issues took center stage as he attempted just three fourth-quarter field goals in the entire seven games. Most notably, he passed up a dunk in the final minutes of the team’s Game 7 loss at home — a play that typified Simmons’ reluctance on the offensive end.
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In his press conference after Game 7, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers told the media that he wasn’t sure if Simmons was qualified to be a championship-level point guard. “I don’t know the answer to that right now,” Rivers said.
Rivers’ quote coupled with Simmons’ poor performance ratcheted up the tension that had been building in Philadelphia for years about the fit, or lack thereof, between Simmons and Joel Embiid. While Simmons — a three-time All-Star and two-time All-Defensive First Teamer — has clear talents, they don’t mesh well with Embiid, and his negative qualities are amplified in the postseason.
This isn’t the first time Simmons has been in trade rumors, but the situation is much different than it was prior to last season, when he was the potential center piece of a James Harden blockbuster. Simmons’ struggles in the postseason lowered his value, and his declaration that he won’t attend training camp has eliminated almost all of the leverage the Sixers once had.
Recent reports indicated that the Sixers are looking for an All-Star player in return for Simmons, but so far have not been able to find a deal they like. That won’t be any easier now that Simmons’ demands have gone public. And if it’s true that Simmons is trying to force his way to one of three teams in California, the Sixers’ options are even more limited.
“Think about three months ago when the Sixers are willing to give up Ben Simmons. You are like, ‘Let’s see what we have to do to get him,'” a Western Conference executive told the Inquirer. “Now, the difference is Ben Simmons says he refuses to play for the Sixers. He wants to go to three California teams. There’s so much bad blood between him and the team.”
The Simmons experience in Philadelphia has never been perfect, but there was always a feeling that they were talented enough to succeed anyway. That hasn’t happened for a whole host of reasons, many of them front-office mistakes unrelated to Simmons’ own personal weaknesses.
Now, as Simmons tries to force his way out of town, the team faces arguably its most important decision since “The Process” began nearly a decade ago. Whatever happens, they can’t afford to add this potential deal to the list of missteps that has led them here in the first place.