Without Ben Simmons in the mix through the first 15 games of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers have posted a mediocre 8-7 record.
However, there’s also a pretty big caveat here. When Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris were both on the court before entering NBA’s COVID-19 protocols, Philadelphia was darn good. In fact, Philadelphia is 7-2 in the nine games Embiid has played compared to a 1-5 mark when he’s sidelined.
Losers of five consecutive heading into Thursday’s outing against the Denver Nuggets, there’s now some who believe Philadelphia’s hot start has actually hurt Simmons’ trade value.
“I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without him. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben,” Michael Scotto of HoopsHype noted recently. “When you lose a star player, you typically struggle, but Philadelphia coming out of the gate, was leading the Eastern Conference. Obviously, when they lost Embiid (Covid-19 protocols), that was like having the rug pulled out from them.”
This actually makes a lot of sense. One might figure that someone as “valuable” as Ben Simmons missing extensive action would impact the team’s success on the court. That has not happened in Philadelphia when the roster is at full strength. In addition to Embiid and Harris, the likes of Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry have stepped up this season.
End in sight to the Ben Simmons drama with the Philadelphia 76ers?
A trade could very well happen within the next month. Once December 15 hits, players who signed new contracts this past summer can be traded. That changes the dynamics a bit for Philadelphia.
What we do know is that there’s no real end to the drama between the two sides after Simmons requested a trade this past off-season and refused to show up for training camp. Philadelphia started to fine him once again when the three-time All-Star refused to meet with team doctors over self-described mental health issues. That did not sit well with Simmons’ agent over at Klutch Sports, Rich Paul.
“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben,” Paul said recently. “Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?”
Remember, Simmons was fined $1.4 million for missing pre-season action. He returned to practice ahead of the season opener, only to be suspended for one game by Doc Rivers for being a distraction in said practice.
Simmons, 25, is coming off a disastrous performance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. That led to discontent on the part of the guard and his organization with it spilling over to a perceived rift between the former No. 1 pick and the aforementioned Embiid.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine that things will clear up enough for Ben Simmons to ever suit up in a Sixers uniform. Whether that means Philadelphia sells low on him ahead of the NBA trade deadline in February remains to be seen. What we do know is that the 76ers’ brass has pretty much fumbled this entire situation from the start.
That has nothing to do with Simmons’ own issues of the court and how he’s being perceived around the Association.