It has been nearly two months since the Philadelphia 76ers' season ended at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks. Nearly two months since Ben Simmons infamously passed up a wide-open layup that could have turned the tide of of the game. Nearly two months since Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid kinda sorta threw Simmons under the bus for not taking that shot.
Simmons remains a member of the organization, but not due to lack of trying on the front office's part. The former No. 1 overall pick has been at the center of the trade rumor mill throughout the offseason. Philly has been actively searching for a trade partner, but the biggest holdup is what they're demanding in return. Daryl Morey wants a James Harden-sized package for the Sixers' star point guard, and he has yet to find one. He probably will never find one, not this offseason anyway. Simmons' value has never been lower than it is right now and everybody knows it.
Simmons himself doesn't appear to be helping the cause. Sixers reporter Jason Dumars said a few weeks ago that he's cut off all contact with team officials (which team sources denied to fellow Sixers reporter Kyle Neubeck). Then Kendrick Perkins went on TV yesterday to say that Simmons is so determined to get the hell out of dodge that he's willing to hold out from training camp to make sure he gets his wish.
The reports have been conflicting, to be sure, and it's tough to parse out what's real and what's a smokescreen during NBA offseason adventures. But when there's smoke, there is usually fire, and given how everything has unfolded between Simmons and the Sixers the possibility of finding fire seems all the more likely.
It's both easy and difficult to get where Simmons is coming from. He's already made his money after Philly offered him the biggest contract possible and he signed it. He's getting lambasted by his hometown fans and criticized by his coach and fellow star player in the media. Simmons has spent five years in Philadelphia, earned several notable awards and was named to an All-Defense team, yet what he can't do is what drives discussion. It's not hard to understand his mindset and think he could be paid the same to be celebrated for what he does best somewhere else.
At the same time, Simmons has to be aware of the landscape of the league after the draft and free agency. Not only is a good team refusing to give up the kind of package Philly wants for Simmons, they're largely uninterested in trading for him at all. Have things really gotten to the point where Simmons would rather toil away in Minnesota in pursuit of an eight-seed instead of competing for a title in Philadelphia? As a competitor and young celebrity who just bought a $17.5 million house in Los Angeles, that doesn't seem to line up.
Yet that seems to be where he's at right now. It remains very unlikely Simmons gets his wish, though, unless Morey lowers his asking price. Until he does that, this saga will continue unimpeded.