Ben Simmons has wanted out since Sixers head coach Doc Rivers and top dog Joel Embiid threw him under the bus for his poor showing in the 2021 Playoffs. True, he did admit that his confidence got the better of him to the point where he could not — did not — want to shoot, especially in the crunch. That said, he likely saw criticism of his extreme timidity on the court, particularly since it came from quarters supposed to close ranks with him, as the last straw.
Simmons cannot be blamed for thinking the way he did and thereafter moving to cut cleanly. Needless to say, the fact that the Sixers actively shopped him around did not help things any. And after a meeting with top brass, one also attended by super-agent Rich Paul, there was agreement that he would be dealt. Where didn’t seem important to him; the bottom line is that he no longer wanted to stay.
There was one problem, however: The Sixers didn’t feel like trading Simmons for pennies to the dollar. They were bona fide contenders, and far be it for them to thumb up a deal in which they stood to acquire draft picks instead of another vital cog. They wanted apples for apples, not a bunch of grapes. Which, as handicapped players in an already-depressed market, gave them little room to maneuver. His continued inability to shoot five seasons removed from being chosen first overall in the 2016 draft appeared to be a long-term concern.
The bottom line is that Simmons comes off as damaged goods. And he’s pushing to leave pronto, thus eroding whatever leverage the Sixers have left. That he’s prepared to sit out training camp when it begins on Sept. 28 does not help their cause any. And, nope, their threat to fine him in accordance with National Basketball Association rules and provisions on his contract won’t help. Were he compelled to return, he would be a distraction at best, and certainly far from motivated to perform up to par.
In other words, the Sixers would do well to move on, and fast. While general manager Daryl Morey has developed a reputation as a hard-nosed negotiator, he squeezes little to no value in encouraging a toxic atmosphere. Waiting may or may not have its rewards, but not taking action in the immediate to short term is a decidedly bad idea. In a dragged-out situation, there are no winners.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.