Once the majority of free agents were signed (or signed and traded) a few days into the offseason’s official start on August 1, the NBA rumor mill has been fixated on the Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia.
Simmons is the last of the big names still left on the trade block from this offseason, but throughout his efforts to get out of Philadelphia, there has been rather consistent reporting that a deal that would make the Sixers happy simply wasn’t out there. The teams most interested had the least interesting “win-now” packages to offer, and Philadelphia was reportedly hunting for a James Harden-like package of draft picks in return that made teams scoff and walk away from the negotiating table.
The result has been a stalemate that saw Simmons insist he will holdout until a deal gets done, initially feeling strong enough in his conviction to take on whatever fines will come his way for missing camp and games. However, it appears that stance is softening considerably after he wasn’t paid the big chunk of his salary that was due on October 1 and continues to miss game checks and get fined for his absence this preseason. On Monday morning, the mass text went out as ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic’s Shams Charania both reported at the same time with eerily similar wording that Simmons, Klutch, and the Sixers were working feverishly “on a resolution” that will end his holdout and bring him back to Philly.
The plan remains for the Sixers to continue canvassing the league for trades, but the possibility of Simmons reporting to the team has increased in recent days, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/zzS14E6nm6
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 11, 2021
The Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, have been working around the clock over the last few days on a resolution to have the three-time All-Star return to market, sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 11, 2021
The problem is, the relationship is very fractured right now and it seems as if Simmons’ teammates have been fine moving forward without him after being told not to come out to California to try and talk to him and convince him to return prior to camp. Joel Embiid in particular has been quite open about the situation, expressing his frustrating with everything that’s going down and saying he’s just focused on the guys in the building, while constantly noting that the team is better with Simmons.
On top of that, fans have completely turned on Simmons, and it seems unlikely they are going to have a change of heart suddenly which will likely only exasperate issues.
Meanwhile, at a taping of AEW Rampage, the Philly crowd broke out the "F*** Ben Simmons" chants…
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) October 7, 2021
All told, this has been a situation where neither the Sixers or Simmons have handled this well. For Philly’s part, it was not figuring this part out sooner and figuring out the Plan B should a trade not materialize that would have kept some of this ugliness behind closed doors. For Simmons and his camp, it was not fully thinking through the ramifications of a holdout and recognizing that they didn’t really have the leverage to force a trade when it became abundantly clear that a great trade package wasn’t out there when his value was at its lowest after a disastrous playoff run.
Now, it seems we are going to get some additional drama in this story, as we’ll see how he can work back in with the team and how this saga plays out now that trade talks seem likely to sit on a back burner until desperation sets in for those pursuing him.