The Ben Simmons saga took yet another dramatic turn this week as the All-Star made an unexpected appearance at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night. Simmons had previously stated that he would never play for the Philadelphia 76ers again after feeling as though he was thrown under the bus by his coach Doc Rivers and teammates in the aftermath of their Playoff defeat to the Atlanta Hawks.
Rivers admitted he was unsure if Simmons was a championship-winning level point guard, while All-Star teammate Joel Embiid has referenced the Australian’s infamous passing up of a wide open dunk in the fourth quarter of game 7 as a key reason for their elimination in the second round.
Such comments appeared to make Simmons’ position untenable in Philadelphia; a feeling that intensified when 76ers were heard chanting “F*** Ben Simmons” at a recent pre-season game. However, he could now suit up for the team once again after his dramatic return, thus ending a series of fines that have been sanctioned his way over recent weeks for his AWOL antics.
The NBA season tips-off next Tuesday, though the 76ers start their season on Wednesday with a visit from the New Orleans Pelicans. If Simmons is included in the lineup, it will be fascinating to see the reaction from the notoriously viscivorus Philadelphia crowd at the Wells Fargo Center
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As for Simmons, it will be fascinating to see how he approaches the next week or so as the new NBA season edges ever closer. The 25-year-old could go the route of other recently disgruntled All-Star players such as Jimmy Butler, Anthony Davis and James Harden, all of whom had multiple years left on their contract at the time of their discontent.
Each of the trios was successful in forcing a trade to a favorable destination as Butler was moved to Philadelphia, Davis landed in Los Angeles and Harden switched to Brooklyn. Whether he chooses to upstage his teammates in practice with the third string team or appear to gain 20 pounds, there is clearly precedent for this sort of incident being resolved in favor of the player.
However, Simmons still has four years left on his contract and it’s clear to see that the Sixers unwillingness to lower their asking price through his no-show to training camp has left them with the greater leverage at this moment in time. Instead of acting out, he may go the route of playing to the best of his ability and increasing his trade value in the process.
This could be his best option to get out of Philadelphia this season after having his bluff called, particularly if teams such as the Portland Trail Blazers or Washington Wizards get off to a slow start, leading to Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal respectively itching for a trade.
Ultimately, it’s still unclear as to what will happen next as this soap opera continues and this is likely to be a topic of discussion well into the early months of the new NBA season. Although Simmons has now reported to the team, do not expect this to be a sign of a reconciliation between the two involved parties.
His motivation for the return is most likely financial and it would be a huge surprise if we were to see Simmons suiting up in a 76ers uniform come opening night of the 2022/23 season.
Ben Simmons Trade Scenarios
Still having four years left on his contract, the only way for Simmons to escape Philadelphia is via trade, something he is yet to produce a written request for despite indirectly doing so. Trading him now looks like a wholly more difficult task than it may have been 12 months ago with his trade value being a highly debated topic.
The first overall pick from the 2016 NBA Draft saw his trade value plummet following his showing against the Atlanta Hawks in the Playoffs, but his potential is leaving Philadelphia still demanding a significant haul in return for his services.
Below, we have featured some of the most speculated trade scenarios featuring Simmons over the offseason.
- Kings Receive: Ben Simmons
- 76ers Receive: Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton
Outside of a trade for a disgruntled star, this may be the best haul that the 76ers could receive in return for Simmons. Buddy Hield is likely to be moved from Sacramento in the coming months after publicly seeing a deal to the Los Angeles Lakers fall through as they instead opted to move for Russell Westbrook, while Tyrese Haliburton came third in Rookie of the Year voting last year. Both are perimeter threats and would be a great compliment to 76ers big man Joel Embiid.
- Pacers Receive: Ben Simmons
- 76ers Receive: Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren
Malcolm Brogdon may not be the glamorous centrepiece return that 76ers fans are hoping for, but the point guard would be a solid addition to their lineup.
He averaged 21.2 points per game for the Indiana Pacers last season and shot 39% from three point range, having also totalled a career-high in minutes.
Although he missed most of last season through injury, a healthy TJ Warren can provide a great scoring punch from the wing having played some of his best basketball in Indiana.
- Trail Blazers Receive: Ben Simmons
- 76ers Receive: CJ McCollum
The most obvious trade on the table appears to be one that would see CJ McCollum come to Philadelphia. The Trail Blazers were the second worst defensive team in the NBA last season and Simmons would do wonders for that statistic, while the 76ers need a creative pick-and-roll perimeter partner for Embiid.
Sixers GM Daryl Morey reportedly wanted three first round picks and three pick swaps in a deal involving the two players but would have to lower his asking price to pull a deal off.