By now, it’s well known that MVP finalist Joel Embiid is the franchise cornerstone for the Philadelphia 76ers. Fellow All-Star Ben Simmons? Not so much.
Philadelphia is coming off a disastrous Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It’s a series that saw Simmons attempt all of three shots in the fourth quarter. It’s actually a thing that happened.
This has also led to widespread rumors that the 76ers will look to trade the underperforming Simmons during the summer. If so, a recent report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst notes that Embiid could play a role in Philadelphia’s decision-making process.
“There’s going to be a huge demand for (Ben Simmons), but not at the value of an All-Star under a four-year guaranteed no-out contract,” Windhorst reported (h/t Bleacher Report). “So that’s really the challenge and the wild card here; Joel Embiid is due a contract extension this offseason, and if the 76ers ask his opinion on this, how he decides to answer that question could determine the next step with Ben Simmons.”
Shortly after Philadelphia’s Game 7 loss to the Hawks, Embiid seemed to throw his enigmatic teammate under the bus for a lack of aggressiveness down the stretch.
“I mean, I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we — I don’t know how to say it — but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored,” Embiid told reporters.
The center is referencing this play in the fourth quarter that saw Simmons pass up an easy dunk to pass the ball.
Is there a chance that Embiid might now want the 76ers to move off Ben Simmons in hopes of finding a better No. 2 option? That seems likely at this point.
At issue here is Simmons’ trade value. He has four seasons remaining on the five-year, $177.2 million extension he signed with Philadelphia back in 2019. Simmons’ cap hits over this pending four-year span could prove detrimental in the 76ers’ hopes of trading the three-time All-Star performer.
- 2021-22: $33 million
- 2022-23: $35.45 million
- 2023-24: $37.89 million
- 2024-25: $40.34 million
That coupled with Simmons’ inability to progress at a rate most expected could very well lead to a watered-down return for the 76ers.
Ben Simmons trade value
It was early during the 2020-21 season that Philadelphia offered up Simmons as part of a package for then-Houston Rockets guard James Harden. That’s when the point guard’s trade value was seemingly at an all-time high.
Fast forward several months, and it stands to reason that Simmons won’t be moved for a player or Harden’s ilk. Rather, Philadelphia is probably looking at acquiring second-tier options in that of C.J. McCollum or Andrew Wiggins. Even then, the Sixers would likely have to throw in a sweetener in a hypothetical trade for one of those two players.
That’s the problem facing front office head Daryl Morey. Despite Simmons’ playoff struggles, he’s still seen as a high-upside player and one of the best defenders in the NBA. What happens if Philadelphia moves off him and he takes his game to a new level with his next team? It would be a bad look for Morey and Co.