Ben Simmons has informed the Sixers that he’s prepared to hold out as long as it takes. The team can’t afford to call his bluff.
The relationship between Ben Simmons and the 76ers organization seemingly went from bad to worse when it was announced that he would be holding out of camp in search of a trade. Even throughout the rumors of Simmons’ cutting off all communication with members of the Sixers’ organization and Rich Paul jockeying for trade leverage, the Sixers appeared content with bringing him back next season if the return on value did not benefit the team.
Despite Simmons being under contract for four more years and seemingly having no leverage, it does not make sense for the Sixers to attempt to bring him back, and they will likely be forced to cut their losses on the trade market.
Since he is still under contract to play for the Sixers, there are many that have argued that Simmons has no leverage in the situation. While this is true to an extent, the Sixers would be shooting themselves in the foot by attempting to call Simmons’ bluff.
It is easy to say you are going to hold out but much harder to do so when the checks stop coming. It has been reported that Simmons could lose out on as much as $227,000 per day if he withholds from camp. This is a hefty amount for anyone but led by his agent Rich Paul; this is likely a price Simmons is willing to pay.
While there may be some satisfaction with throwing fines in the direction of Simmons’ camp, the bottom line is it does not help the Sixers. The disappointing second-round exit that was headlined by Simmons’ poor playoff performance continues to leave a sour taste in the front offices around the league as they enter trade conversations. His value remains at an all-time low, and this will not change if he is not on the court.
There are certainly glaring holes in the playstyle of the former rookie-of-the-year, DPOY runner-up, and three-time all-star, but the fact of the matter is the Sixers are not in a position to be taking a poor return back on the deal. It seems clear the priority must switch to fit over talent to some extent, but not getting back a high-level perimeter creator could ultimately sink the championship hopes of this current Sixers team.
Capitalizing on Joel Embiid’s prime is essential if the Sixers hope to wing a ring, and Ben Simmons may be the team’s final big trade piece to put this into fruition. If Simmons puts his money where his mouth is and does not report to training camp, the Sixers run the risk of his value continuing to sink. Refusing to step back on the floor following his worst career performance is unlikely to boost his value, and the Sixers may be at the will of the trade market for what their return might garner on a trade.
Seemingly the only way the Sixers would get a positive return on his trade value would be if Ben Simmons does elect to report to camp. This seemed to be the Sixers’ plan if they could not find a fair deal this offseason-which has proved to be the case.
Even if Simmons makes a return to the team and bluffs on his holdout threats, the Sixers are still not in a good position. The bridge between Simmons and the Sixers is seemingly burned past the point of repair and would make for some awkward lockerroom conversations. It is unclear how much validity there is to Simmons being hurt by Doc Rivers’ comments following game 7 or the rumors of him cutting off communications with other players and members of the organization.
While it is up in the air how bad things are, it seems clear that a breakup is in everyone’s best interest. The bottom line is despite seemingly having the power in the situation, the Sixers are not in a good spot. The trade market is not offering fair value back for a guy who was expected to be the co-star on the Sixers roster, and he seemingly has no interest in fixing the strained relationship.
There does not seem to be a situation in which anyone comes out a winner. From Simmons’ perspective, any trade out of Philadelphia would likely be celebrated, but there are few places that offer him the same chance to win as he has with the Sixers. From the Sixers’ perspective, it seems unlikely the franchise takes a step forward with this deal, and getting this wrong could cripple this core.
The pipedreams of flipping their talented but limited point guard for a legitimate co-star to Joel Embiid are shattered for the time being. With teams like the Cavaliers, Timberwolves, and Raptors continuing to have the most interest in Simmons, the Sixers may be forced to agree to a deal built around draft picks and young players.
Using this as a stepping stone deal and waiting for a true star to shake free may be the Sixers’ only chance at raising the level of the team in the way they desire. It will likely continue to get ugly before it gets better, but the Ben Simmons saga may be headed for an ending soon.