The Philadelphia 76ers put themselves in an unenviable situation when they signed point guard Ben Simmons to a five-year, $177.2 million extension back in July of 2019.
This isn’t to blame general manager Elton Brand. Simmons was coming off a tremendous 2018-19 season and looked to be a budding star. The contract didn’t seem so bad.
Fast forward two years, and hindsight tells us that this was a franchise-altering move from the Philadelphia 76ers’ brass.
Simmons is now months removed from a disastrous playoff appearance as the top-seeded Sixers lost in the second round to the Atlanta Hawks. He’s since requested a trade and has threatened to hold out of training camp, which starts in less than a month.
A team that has clear NBA title aspirations is now hovering between mid-tier playoff contention and complete irrelevance. Here’s a look at why the Ben Simmons situation threatens to derail Philadelphia’s championship aspirations.
Philadelphia 76ers will not get market value for Ben Simmons
Even before Simmons’ recent trade demand becoming public record, Philadelphia was going to sell low on the 25-year-old former No. 1 pick. Despite brilliant play on defense, Simmons is coming off the worst statistical season of his career.
Ben Simmons career stats
- 2017-18: 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.2 assists, 55% shooting
- 2018-19: 16.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 56% shooting
- 2019-20: 16.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 58% shooting
- 2020-21: 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists, 56% shooting
This is a clear indication that Simmons’ regression from 2019-20 to last season will undoubtedly impact his trade value.
Add in his trade demand, and Philadelphia is not working from a position of strength here. And when his bloated contract is taken into account, there’s even further issues.
Lack of interest in a Ben Simmons trade
- It was previously reported that the Golden State Warriors had been in conversations with Philadelphia for Simmons, even after the 76ers’ absurd demand in a return package was denied. However, a recent report from Anthony Slater of The Athletic notes that talks with the 76ers have “never even really been alive.”
- This is the issue for Philadelphia. The previous asking price of two young players and four first-round picks was laughed off by interested teams. Front office head Daryl Morey might have overplayed his hand. If that’s the case, teams might be skeptical to return to the table in trade talks.
- Sure the Minnesota Timberwolves have shown some sort of aggression in attempting to acquire Ben Simmons. There’s just nothing concrete as it relates to a trade offer from a team that will not part ways with stud incoming sophomore Anthony Edwards.
These are some of the factors when it comes to Philadelphia being able to improve via a Ben Simmons trade. Another factor is the assets “interested” teams might have to offer for Simmons. None of them make Philadelphia a legitimate NBA title contender. Not a single one.
Ben Simmons is not the only catalyst for Philadelphia 76ers championship window closing
This is an important point. We’re not going to place the blame solely on Simmons or the fact that Brand extended him two years ago.
As Joel Embiid noted recently, he’s as much to blame. The reigning NBA MVP finalist just has not been able to stay healthy on a consistent basis. In addition to missing each of his first two seasons, the talented center is averaging just 52 games played over the past five years. Availability is the best asset. Up until now, Embiid just hasn’t been available.
The Tobias Harris contract is obviously another factor here. Acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2018-19 NBA trade deadline, Harris has morphed into a pretty darn good third option. He’s averaging 19.3 points and 7.0 rebounds on 49% since joining Philadelphia.
At issue here is his contract. Harris, 29, is set to earn a combined $113 million over the next three seasons. Philadelphia had engaged in trade talks for him earlier this summer, but was unable to find a suitor. That has more to do with Harris’ contract than his two-way ability on the court.
None of this even takes into account just how loaded the Eastern Conference is. The Brooklyn Nets have three future first ballot Hall of Famers on their roster. The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending NBA champions. The Atlanta Hawks boast one of the best young stars in the game and an absolutely loaded roster. The Boston Celtics have changed things up mid-stream under new president Brad Stevens, and have improved. The Miami Heat landed Kyle Lowry, among other veteran players.
You get the point, right? All of these teams are better equipped at long-term championship contention than a Sixers team with Ben Simmons in the mix. And in reality, trading him with the market the way it is would only downgrade this team even more.
That’s the harsh reality of the situation.