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September 29, 2021

Report: Ben Simmons willing to sit out season if Sixers don't trade him

In our latest edition of "How far will Ben Simmons and his camp go to get out of Philadelphia?" a report emerged late Tuesday suggesting Philadelphia's point guard could sit out the 2021-22 season if the Sixers don't trade him elsewhere. 

During an appearance on ESPN's The Jump on Tuesday, Ramona Shelburne suggested Simmons and his camp are willing to go to the furthest extreme possible in order to get what he wants:

When you talk to people close to Ben, I say, okay, worst case scenario it takes all year, would he sit all year? And the answer right now is yes. Now, you can say that right now at the beginning of training camp, you can say that you're willing to sit all year if that's what it takes to get traded to a team that you feel more comfortable on. But let's see what happens when you really start missing checks, you really start missing basketball, and the league moves on without you.  [The Jump]

As Shelburne suggests, this is a lot easier said than done. Making the claim you'll sit out is a lot easier than flushing all that money down the drain, regardless of how much money Simmons has collected to date and stands to make in the future. There's a reason (and really, millions of reasons) you've never really seen someone take this stance in the past, even guys who were close to running out their deal with the franchise they were looking to leave.

There's also the question of leverage. As Simmons and his camp have leaked increasingly hostile stances, it has been suggested they are undermining Philadelphia's position in the process, ensuring he is going to get traded for a lesser return than they want. I would certainly agree he's not going to fetch top dollar and is less valuable compared to a scenario where he was silent and showing up to work, but there's only so much he can do to torpedo his value right now, given the length of time left on his contract.

Let's envision a scenario where Simmons sits out months of the season to prove his point. If the Sixers come out of the gate looking terrible and lost without him, it strengthens the point they're making to other teams that it will require a haul to trade him. On the other hand, if the Sixers are able to hold the fort and play well without him, the pressure on them to rip the band-aid off and seek immediate help via a trade decreases, leaving him in the wilderness while they wait for the right moment to strike.

The x-factor is whether they lose the buy-in of one of their top guys in the process (at least in the "things go awry" scenario). There is a level of urgency to get something for Simmons in relatively short order so that they can capitalize on Joel Embiid's prime while he's in it. If things go south and the big guy starts getting agitated, these threats from Simmons become a bit more powerful, and their likelihood to accept a subpar deal rises. But we're a long way from that possibility yet.  

Most within the organization still believe Simmons will make an appearance at some point, happy about the situation or not. The Sixers have been consistent in their stance — they would make a move if an opportunity presented itself to either maintain or improve their championship odds, but they're not going to make a deal just to make this "problem" go away. Philadelphia has also maintained that they're uninterested in making an asset-heavy deal now just to have to make another deal using those assets later, preferring to get everything done in one fell swoop. 

For now, the Sixers are going about training camp and moving forward with who they have, all the while hoping Simmons might change his mind and join them at some point in the near future. The people on the floor feel good about the group they have, and the higher-ups are confident that time is on their side here, whether that leads to Simmons returning or another team panicking thanks to a tough start of their own.

We'll have games to talk about starting next week, but until then, Simmons' absence continues to be the top story concerning the organization. 

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