June 24, 2021
With Ben Simmons under fire for his role in Philadelphia’s second round defeat, his agent Rich Paul met with Sixers brass to discuss his future with the franchise, according to a new report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Neither Simmons or his camp have made a trade request yet, according to Wojnarowski, but talks continue as the two sides start to work through what figures to be a long and messy summer. Here’s what Woj had to say on the meeting:
Paul met with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand at the pre-draft combine to begin evaluating the next steps in Simmons' Sixers career, sources said.
Paul engaged the Sixers on whether it makes sense to work together to find a trade before the start of next season, but no request was made and the sides are expected to continue talking ahead of the July 29 NBA draft and August free agency, sources said.
The 76ers are committed to keeping Simmons as a central piece of their franchise, sources said. Simmons, 24, has four years and $147 million left on his contract. After Simmons' season ended with a frustrating performance in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, the Sixers are focused on a summer of work on his shooting. Simmons and coach Doc Rivers met this week to discuss a plan for improvement, sources said. Despite Simmons scoring a combined 19 points in the final three games against the Hawks, his trade value in the marketplace is still significant, sources said. [ESPN]
Unpacking all of that, the lack of a formal trade request does not seem to mean the Sixers are out of the woods or definitely locked in on a partnership with Simmons. Everything that has been said so far, including by Daryl Morey during his exit interview with the media, is essentially what the Sixers have to say in order to leave all their options open. Saying definitively that they would trade him would only undercut their position and/or anger the Simmons camp, and it’s in their best interest to maintain a positive working relationship if nothing else.
However, Simmons’ tenure in Philadelphia reaching a point where his future needs to be discussed at this level is a red flag on its own, a sign of how things have changed and how his standing has fallen within the organization over the past few years. Previously, the Sixers refused to even entertain his name in trade discussions for players like Kawhi Leonard, rewarded him with a max contract, and effectively chose him at point guard over a potential partnership with Jimmy Butler.
None of this means the Sixers are ready to trade Simmons for pennies on the dollar, as Wojnarowski points out, and some of the fake trades being floated with his name in them this week have gone a bit too far overcorrecting for his second round face plant. Though a pattern has emerged at the highest levels in the playoffs, there are many franchises around the league who would be happy to make the playoffs in the first place, and Simmons’ night to night production remains a strong selling point there.
The question that will hover over all these discussions — can the Sixers find a move that suits all parties?
They are dealing with a max-level client of a powerful agency, trying to put a team on the floor that can help Joel Embiid compete for a title in the short term, and dealing from a position of at least some weakness because of the recency and consistency of Simmons’ playoff failures. It is going to be hard to please everyone, and that’s assuming everyone within Philadelphia’s brain trust is on the exact same page. That is far from a guarantee — consensus was not there for a Simmons for Harden swap, for example, and Harden is considerably better than most of the names being floated as potential trade targets this week.
Stay tuned, in other words.
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