The world has reacted with fury to the latest development in Ben Simmons’ trade war with his own team and the swirling new rumours.
Ben Simmons’ latest trade war development with the 76ers has been described as “utterly ridiculous” by ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith.
It emerged Wednesday morning Simmons will reportedly follow through on his threat to boycott training camp next week as part of his push to secure a trade out of Philadelphia.
The Aussie NBA star’s relationship with his team broke down following heavy criticism after the 76ers were dumped out of the playoffs last season — with much of the scrutiny falling on Simmons and his unwillingness to shoot.
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The situation has continued to take dramatic turns in recent months ever since it was first reported the Sixers began exploring trading Simmons in the days that followed their elimination at the semi-final stage of the Eastern Conference play-offs.
The fresh news of Simmons’ determination to force his way out of the team has led to stinging criticism for the 25-year-old as a result of his part in the messy divorce.
The situation will come to a head next week when the Sixers return from the off-season with coach Doc Rivers and general manager Daryl Morey to face the press.
Simmons still has four years and a whopping $203m remaining on his deal but is reportedly prepared to be fined for skipping training camp and possibly even sitting out games so he can force a release.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Wednesday nothing is bringing Simmons back — not even the risk of being fined as much as $308,000 each day he doesn’t show up.
However, a report emerged Wednesday Simmons has a trump card up his sleeve in skipping all duties with his team as a result of the complex contract system in place protecting Simmons from being fined until November, despite the season beginning in October.
Veteran hoops reporter Marc Stein reports the Sixers won’t be able to action any breach of contract complaints or even suspend him until after the season starts.
The silly twists are continuing to play out with Stein also reporting the Sixers are now trying to entice Simmons to return — even if it is only to help the team avoid a trade disaster where they will eventually be forced to let their star point guard go in exchange for magic beans.
The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Kyle Neubeck writes Simmons and his camp have not even entertained the idea of trying to mend the relationship.
The report details rumblings from around the league Morey is continuing to prioritise a potential trade for Portland’s Damian Lillard or Sacramento’s DeAron Fox. However, Morey’s asking price remains too steep, according to multiple reports. Houston’s John Wall has also been part of the Simmons conversation.
With both those teams resisting Morey’s offer, the 76ers’ helpless position is further highlighted by the other potential suitors in the conversation to snap up Simmons.
Toronto, Minnesota, Cleveland and San Antonio have all been linked with interest in Simmons, but none have the talent and suitability to give the Sixers what the team needs right now — a star point guard.
The Sixers are chasing an immediate replacement for Simmons and don’t want draft picks while the team believes it is in the championship window with Joel Embiid.
Simmons’ latest move gives the Sixers even less bargaining power surrounding a trade — and may ultimately be the instant death of the team’s championship aspirations.
It’s why Smith and other NBA commentators were so upset on Wednesday.
‘He’s scared’: Smith tears Simmons to shreds
“This is utterly ridiculous on the part of Ben Simmons. Come on, Bro,” Smith wrote on Twitter.
Smith had earlier told ESPN Simmons’ issues run deeper than his reported rift with the team as a result of Embiid highlighting Simmons’ infamous pass under the rim as the moment that broke the Sixers’ season. Rivers also said couldn’t guarantee Simmons was capable of leading Philly to a championship.
“Good luck to the team he lands with because at this moment in time we can only say you will be getting a good player but not one willing to do what is required to be great,” Smith said.
“If Ben Simmons develops a free throw shot, not even a jump shot, he could average 25 points a game, he’s that good. He’s that special a talent.
“His problem is he’s scared to shoot and the 76ers and the 76ers fan base is to blame and you don’t want to come back and have to deal with them.
“That’s a heart check ladies and gentleman, That’s a heart examination right there.
“That ain’t about skill. This brother is LeBron James part two if he develops any kind of jump shot or even a free throw shot. This ain’t about skill it’s about heart.”
Smith said Portland and Golden State are the two teams that make the most sense for Simmons to end up at.
The Sixers aren’t willing to part with Simmons yet because they haven’t found a suitable trade package. Many believe his trade value dropped to an all-time low after his performances against Atlanta in the playoffs, but the Sixers still want a big-name player as part of any deal to release Simmons — something they haven’t been able to acquire yet.
Reports in US media emerged on Tuesday the Houston Rockets want to make a play for Simmons, with suggestions five-time All-Star Wall could be offered up as trade bait.
On Wednesday, Simmons shared a clip to his Instagram story of him and Wall working out on the court together. In the short video, Wall turns to the camera and jokes: “Hey Ben, leave me the f*** alone, Ben.”
Earlier this month NBA legends Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley ripped into Simmons over his ongoing trade saga.