Ever since the Philadelphia 76ers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Playoffs last season, Ben Simmonstrade rumors have been on the fritz. Many believe that Philadelphia is eager to find a new home for its former first overall pick, but steep asking prices and the lack of communication on both sides have turned the situation ugly heading into training camp. On the Jalen and Jacoby show, Jacoby posed the question of whether Simmons will report to camp given that both parties have failed to communicate with less than a month until training camp starts.
“I don’t think it would be wise for him to pull a James Harden since he isn’t a former MVP.”
Jalen Rose, ">Jalen & Jacoby
Well, what does this exactly mean? Let’s back up a bit to last year’s big offseason drama involving James Harden and the Houston Rockets. After elimination from the NBA bubble, the Houston Rockets were forced to take a hard look at their status as a franchise with championship aspirations. They brought Russell Westbrook on board and in the middle of the season, fully committed to their small-ball strategy by trading Clint Capela to the Atlanta Hawks to ensure that the team would always at least have four three-point shooters on the floor.
The Rockets faced spacing issues with Westbrook and Capela on their roster, so they decided to keep Russ to maintain star power in a stacked Western Conference. That summer, Russ wanted out and was quickly shipped off to Washington, triggering Harden to make trade requests of his own. Harden then partied without a mask in strip clubs to finally show up to camp late and out of shape while being very vocal about his demands. He then forced his way to Brooklyn to join Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, masterful play by The Beard.
A play like this is something we had seen numerous times in the NBA, with another prominent name to do this being Anthony Davis when he wished to join the Los Angeles Lakers. The executor of this move? Klutch Sports’ Rich Paul, who also happens to be Simmons’ agent.
The scheme essentially works by a star labeling themselves as a distressed asset worth millions of dollars, forcing teams to consider trading the star to a team of his choice versus either losing him for nothing or having millions in cap space sitting on the bench because he refuses to play for your team. This move is especially effective when the star involved is an upcoming free agent because losing a star you drafted while getting nothing in return is a nightmare for front offices. However, neither of these situations applies to Simmons, making this a tricky strategy for the young Australian.
1. He’s not a free agent - Simmons, in fact, still has four years left on his contract and is owed a lot of money for each of those years. The team that eventually gets him will have him under contract for the early years of his prime. If he ends up sitting for the next four years, not only will Simmons be forgotten in the NBA world, but the last memory of him will be his meltdown against Atlanta. If Ben is about maximizing his financial options as a basketball player, then he should suit up for whichever team has him under contract this season, even if that happens to still be the Sixers.
2. He’s not a superstar - James Harden pulled off the heist because of the league's value in him. Right now, not only is Ben’s skill level is in question but his attitude and commitment to the game have also met some scrutiny. If Ben wants out of Philadelphia, he’s going to have to convince the league that he is a player you can build your franchise around because it will cost that much to acquire him as far as Daryl Morey’s concerned. Ben is also not the cornerstone in Philadelphia; that title belongs to Joel Embiid, while Tobias Harris provides the support they hoped to get from Ben one day. Quite frankly, with some wins in low-cost free agency and perhaps the buyout market mid-season, the Sixers can address some of the gaps left by Ben’s absence. It’s not ideal, but best believe that Philly will find a way to be a contender with our without Simmons this season.
Showing up committed is a win for both sides, but should Simmons decide to play the Harden card, then, unfortunately, only he stands to lose. The Sixers are much better with the defense and playmaking he brings to the table, but their goal of winning a championship is still attainable without him, it’s just that simple.
“I think he is going to be at camp.”
Jalen Rose, ">Jalen & Jacoby
I must agree with Jalen Rose here. Given all that is potentially stacked up against Ben in this situation, I ultimately feel he will show up to training camp with the Sixers and do his job. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, and if the Sixers want to get something out of it, then it’s now on head coach Doc Rivers to devise a plan to achieve success with the team’s current personnel.
If we are talking Ben Simmons’ future, it’ll likely be with the 76ers. The real question is whether the team figures out a way to learn from its past failures and take its current roster to the mountaintop.