The Philadelphia 76ers and star guard Ben Simmons have been locked in a standoff at the moment as the 25-year old 3-time All-Star requested his trade from the organization officially in late August. After a tumultuous 2021 playoff run, the star guard needs a change of scenery.
The Sixers have been trying to accommodate his request, but they also have been hanging on to hope that they can fix this situation and mend the fences with him a bit. Philadelphia has been building their team around Simmons and Joel Embiid and they are hoping that they can see this project through as the two of them are supremely talented.
However, it appears that Simmons’ confidence is gone and he needs to go somewhere else where he can rebuild it and continue to grow as a player. He has taken a ton of criticism for his poor playoff performances and it is tough to overcome all of that in a city like Philadelphia.
In a detailed report by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, the Sixers met with Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, to try and mend the fences and convince Simmons to stay. They understand how talented he is despite his obvious offensive struggles at the moment and they still believe they can fix him.
Shelburne reports on the meeting, which included president Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers:
Morey went first, presenting him with a detailed statistical case showing how good Simmons and Embiid were together defensively — the top duo in the NBA since they entered the league — and even argued they weren’t nearly as bad together offensively as Simmons’ might feel. their combined offensive efficiency of 118.2 points per 100 possessions, Morey outlined, would have led the NBA among all teams.
Rivers then appealed to Simmons’ professionalism and competitiveness, reminding him that he’d signed a five-year, $170 million contract extension just two years ago and the team hoped he’d honor it.
The overarching message was clear: No matter what had happened at the end of last year’s disastrous playoff run, they wanted him back. They still saw him as a great player. They believed they could help him through the shooting and confidence woes that had derailed his career. And frankly, they said, there were no trades out there that made sense for them.
Morey and Rivers have a point here. For all of the criticism that Simmons and Embiid have continued to receive, they are one of the better duos in the NBA. They have had so much success on the floor on either end and the two of them have continued to grow as players. The only thing that continues to hold Simmons back is his lack of a jumper, or his refusal to take one.
See, Simmons can make jumpers. He just refuses to shoot them. That appears to be a confidence issue. For example, per Shelburne, he took 230 shots beyond 10 feet in his rookie season and he took only 55 such shots in the 2020-21 season. It appears that maybe the noise got to be too much for him and he actually regressed a bit.
Shelburne added in her report:
When it was Simmons’ turn to speak, he was focused on something entirely different.
He didn’t dwell on Rivers’ or Embiid’s quotes from after the Sixers’ Game 7 loss to the Hawks. He didn’t say he felt betrayed by being included in the Sixers’ attempts to trade for Harden last fall.
His first three years in the league, the Sixers had such a bright spotlight on them and so much early success, he told them, that he didn’t feel like he could make the mistakes other top draft picks were afforded. His growing pains were too public and consequential.
“I appreciate you guys coming out here,” Simmons said, according to multiple sources at the meeting. “I understand how you feel. But I feel how I feel. And it’s just time for a change.”
It does appear that a change of scenery maybe to a smaller market where there is less pressure on him to overcome these issues so quickly would do wonders for a guy who at 25-years old still has a lot to give to this game and grow into the player everyone expects him to be. The public scrutiny of Philadelphia can be tough on anybody and at the moment, it appears that Simmons needs a fresh start.