Everything up until now made it seem like it’s personal, but a recent report from The Athletic’s Sam Amick shows that the Ben Simmons saga might be solely about his basketball fit alongside Joel Embiid.
According to Amick, the Sixers All-Star believes the organization’s decision to build its playing style around Embiid is not conducive to the way he wants to play. So despite recent efforts at Media Day, when Embiid, Doc Rivers, and Daryl Morey all said they would like to have Ben back with the franchise, the 25-year-old still has a desire to be traded.
In fact, Simmons thought that would happen by now. But according to Zach Lowe, there are currently no trades that are close to happening. That’s why two days before the Sixers’ training camp opens, with Simmons facing the possibility of losing $1.3 million if he doesn’t show up, Lowe made a prediction.
I think Simmons is showing up. I don’t know when. It might be next week. I don’t know if it’s two weeks. I don’t know if it’s in a month. I think Simmons is showing up.Zach Lowe, The Lowe Post
Whether he shows up or not, it’s pretty clear Ben no longer wants to play alongside Joel, despite the two having relative success as teammates, making the playoffs in all four years of playing together. The two were never a perfect fit, but flashes of how good they can be were enough for the Sixers to keep trying to make it work — last season alone, they ranked No. 4 in net rating of pairs who had played at least 1,100 minutes together, according to Basketball News. But it seems Ben is tired of trying and wants a fresh start, despite what Embiid said about the situation at Media Day.
Efforts from people within the Sixers organization show they want Simmons back with the team. But at this point, their words might be more about correcting the past mistakes than actually wanting him back.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize Ben and Embiid were never a perfect basketball fit, and I’m sure they were aware of it from day one. The only question was how much time they were willing to invest to maximize their talents as a duo. Well, up until last season, it seemed they were far from done. Then the Playoffs happened and Simmons’ well-publicized struggle on the offensive end culminated in passing up a wide-open dunk in Game 7 against the Hawks.
Doc Rivers and Embiid started pointing fingers at Ben for losing to Atlanta, and the whole NBA community turned their back on him. That’s when things got personal, and despite Amick’s reports, that’s when the whole thing went south.
Simmons’ decision to leave the 76ers might be all about his basketball fit with Embiid. But that’s nothing new. It’s about what prompted him to decide now is the time to give up on trying to make it work. And I don’t care what anyone says; that has to be personal.