It’s midnight in Philadelphia for Sixers star Ben Simmons

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers head into this weekend’s action with a 32-21 record and as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. It has been a downright pedestrian season for Brett Brown’s squad.

General manager Elton Brand attempted to liven things up a bit by acquiring Glenn Robinson III and Alec Burks in a pre-deadline trade Wednesday night. But let’s be real. That’s not going to move the marker too much for this team.

It’s all about Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Together, they have not lived up to the expectations set forth for them after both were selected within the top-three picks.

As the face of the franchise, Embiid is not going anywhere. The same thing can’t be said about former Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, who has drawn criticism.

Here’s the gist: Ben Simmons has a limited offensive game. He has not put in the necessary work to expand said game. It’s an issue. It’s something head coach Brett Brown has talked about a lot. Simmons could very well find himself jettisoned from Philadelphia this coming summer.

Ridiculous contract: Simmons just signed a five-year, $170 million extension with Philadelphia ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

  • This contract kicks in during the 2020-21 season and will ultimately see Simmons’ average annual salary grow to an enormous $38.61 million.
  • This is not the type of contract you pay for a dude who is averaging just north of 16 points per game. Despite Simmons’ elite passing and defensive skills, he’s not worth the max to Philadelphia.
  • Simmons, Embiid, Al Horford and Tobias Harris are set to count a combined $115-plus million against the cap in 2020-21. That does not leave this team too much room to improve behind those four. As of yet, it’s not a championship core.

Still valuable elsewhere: Despite his limited offensive game, Simmons is a great ball distributor and plays absolutely shutdown defense.

  • Simmons would fit better in another system with better shooting and spacing. He’s not a fit in an offense that centers around a player of Embiid’s ilk.
  • Pure conjecture, but a team like the Golden State Warriors or Houston Rockets would be a much better fit for him.
  • We’re not going to suggest specific trades here. That’s way too premature, but there’s going to be value in trading Simmons should Philly put him on the block.

There are better fits with Embiid: It’s not all on Simmons. Embiid needs a specific type of player to run the ship, one who can shoot. A trade could net Philadelphia just that.

  • A point guard who can shoot or a small forward with an ability to stretch the court would seem to be a better fit for an Embiid-centric offense.
  • If Andrew Wiggins shows out in Golden State after this week’s trade, would he be a good fit? We’re talking about a young player with defensive skills and a much longer range than Simmons.
  • Maybe Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal looks to move on from D.C. That could be an option, too.
  • These are the types of players who make more sense for Philadelphia over the long haul.

Bottom line

If we had told you Philadelphia would have a worst record than Oklahoma City Thunder more than half way through the 2019-20 season, you would have demanded a refund of your time.

But here we are. Philadelphia is not performing anywhere near up to the level of its talent. It’s a team-wide issue. Brett Brown might not be the answer as the team’s head coach.

That’s all fine and dandy. However, it starts and ends with Simmons. If he’s unable to lead Philly to a deep run in the playoffs, it would not be a surprise if a trade were discussed during the summer.

It’s that simple.