Multiple reports indicated that Simmons’ camp does not consider it their job to maximize the return for the Sixers. Their job is to request a trade, I guess, and Daryl Morey’s job as president of basketball operations is to execute that trade. Except, that is not really his job, either. Morey’s job is to build the best team he can build, and Simmons’ public trade demand has made that rather difficult, so we have reached an impasse.
There are four ways forward, only one of them benefits both sides, and Simmons is steadfast against it.
First, Simmons could simply play for the team he helped lead to a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Do the job he agreed to perform, in other words. He has four years and $147 million remaining on his contract, after all. Being the good soldier could resurrect some of his value and make it easier for the Sixers to trade him by the February deadline, all while keeping Philadelphia in contention in the meantime.
Keep in mind, Simmons has averaged a 16-8-8 for his career and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. He was an All-NBA player in 2020. He is an asset for a 50-win team and could make Philadelphia a serious title contender if he remained committed to extending his range beyond 8 feet.
That is as close to a win-win situation as either side is going to find, only Simmons does not want to report to training camp, partly because Sixers coach Doc Rivers told the truth about not knowing whether the 25-year-old could be the point guard for a championship team. That is a universal truth Simmons refuses to accept, even as the trade market for his services reflects how many teams agree with Rivers’ assessment.
Second, Simmons could show up to camp and undermine the team, as Jimmy Butler did in 2018 on the Minnesota Timberwolves. Ironically, the Sixers benefited from Butler’s subversion, acquiring an All-NBA talent for nickels on the dollar (Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a second-round draft pick). You would hope Simmons would not do that, either, out of respect for himself and his teammates.
Morey certainly does not want that to happen, because the paltry trade offers he has already received for Simmons will only get worse. The Wolves reportedly do not want to give up Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards or maybe even D’Angelo Russell for Simmons. The Sacramento Kings reportedly do not want to part with De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton or maybe even Harrison Barnes. And the Golden State Warriors reportedly do not want to deal James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, much less Moses Moody and the two other first-round picks Morey requested when the two teams discussed a trade around the draft in July.
Can you blame Morey? Potential players-and-picks packages from the Wolves (Malik Beasley and Jaden McDaniels), Kings (Buddy Hield and Marvin Bagley III) and Warriors (Andrew Wiggins) do little to maintain Philadelphia’s title chances, much less improve them. The Sixers would much rather keep Simmons and cross their fingers that he either develops a jumper or fetches a better offer down the line, especially if Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal ever become available. The brass reportedly met with Simmons and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul in an attempt “to put aside their differences,” but the former No. 1 pick has refused.
Third, Simmons could refuse to report for camp and be fined $227,613 each day he does not play. As tempting as it might be for Morey to follow Charles Barkley’s advice and tell Paul, “You can’t bully me to trade him and me taking some trash back,” this scenario does nothing but hurt both sides. The Sixers would have to answer questions every day about Simmons’ absence, and he would forever be stamped a malcontent whose latest acts as a basketball professional were refusing to shoot before refusing to play.
Simmons may well be fine with that, because he has so far chosen option No. 4, which is threatening to sit out training camp in hopes Morey blinks first. Only, the best player rumored to be on the table for Simmons might have been Malcolm Brogdon. The Cleveland Cavaliers are also among the reported suitors, likely with Collin Sexton as a centerpiece. We are two weeks from discovering whether Morey would prefer someone of value at training camp rather than no one at all, and whether Simmons will actually stick to staying home.
There is risk in that for Simmons beyond the Lamborghini Urus he could be paying in fines each day. In addition to Sacramento and Cleveland, the Oklahoma City Thunder and their cache of draft picks are looming as a potential trade partner. Is spending the rest of his rookie extension — or at least until he requests another trade — on a rebuilding team better than hearing boos every time he refuses to shoot?
Simmons reportedly prefers “three California teams,” presumably none of which are the Kings, but if Wiggins is the best available player on the Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers or LA Clippers, can you blame Morey for not meeting his disgruntled player’s demands? It is not Morey’s job to grant Simmons’ wishes.
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