When Ben Simmons walked off the court after his brutal Game 7 performance, many wondered if it would be the last time he ever suited up for the Philadelphia 76ers again. The All-Star guard remains on the roster, but his days with the organization might be numbered.
The 76ers started exploring their options for a blockbuster trade early in the offseason, setting a high price when teams called with interest. Even after an ugly stretch in the playoffs, the market for the All-Star defender was robust.
Philadelphia engaged in discussions with the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings, Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves about a potential deal. But the 2021 NBA Draft came and went, with the front office holding firm to its price with a belief it could still land Damian Lillard.
According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, the 76ers have continued to engage in expansive discussions with the Timberwolves and Raptors. With neither offer matching Philadelphia’s price, Daryl Morey is reportedly willing to keep Simmons.
But multiple NBA executives told The Athletic that it’s a matter of when, not if, Philadelphia inevitably pulls the trigger on a Simmons trade.
- Ben Simmons contract: $33 million (2021-’22), $35.45 million (2022-’23), $37.9 million (2023-’23) and $40.34 million (2024-’25)
Philadelphia certainly holds some leverage in this situation, given Simmons is under contract through the 2024 NBA season. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that their point guard doesn’t want to return to the team.
Simmons reportedly broke off communication with the organization and is only speaking to teammates. Meanwhile, reports surfaced that his relationship with Doc Rivers has suffered significant damage and mending fences seems unlikely.
- Ben Simmons stats (2020-’21): 14.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 6.9 apg, 1.6 spg, 3.3 DWS and 106 Defensive Rating
Minnesota remains the likeliest landing spot for a trade. The Timberwolves view Simmons as the ideal piece to complement their young stars and believe his defense would provide a much-needed boost. But, as Charania noted, a deal would likely require a third team.
The 76ers will keep holding out hope that Lillard will demand a trade, forcing the Portland Trail Blazers to move him. But with that becoming increasingly unlikely, settling for a package deal might be the only option. Either that or a championship contender enters the season with a disgruntled player who has lost fan support.