Philadelphia is actively exploring trade options for Ben Simmons as the fallout from the 76ers’ disastrous playoffs exit continues.
Speculation about the Aussie’s future ramped up after his personal horror show in the Sixers’ loss to Atlanta in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. His lack of intent on offence and a disastrous run at the free-throw line — where he shot just 34.2 per cent — led to questions being asked about whether he’s capable of leading Philly to a championship.
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The Athletic reports “the writing is on the wall for Simmons and his future with the franchise” as 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey seeks to find a solution to this season’s playoffs bungle.
“The 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams,” The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports, as a source told the publication the Sixers “want an All-Star calibre player in return”.
There have been suggestions Simmons’ trade value is at an all-time low after his shocker against the Hawks, but the three-time All-Star still has plenty of attractive qualities for potential suitors.
“Make no mistake: Interest across the league in Simmons remains robust,” The Atlantic said.
NBA expert Marc Stein reports “numerous teams want” Simmons but a potential trade deal will depend on what sort of package a rival outfit can offer Philadelphia that will appease Morey and convince him to part with the former No. 1 draft pick.
“Simmons, who turns 25 in a week, remains too tantalising a target to discourage hopeful trade partners from shooting their shot,” Stein wrote. “He’s too good defensively, too versatile and too dangerous in full fast-break flow.
“He also must prepare for the idea that the Morey-led Sixers will ultimately do what’s best for the Sixers.”
Simmons failed to fire against Atlanta.Source:Getty Images
Simmons was already included in a trade package in January when the Sixers tried to snare James Harden from Houston, but that play fell through and The Beard instead landed at the Brooklyn Nets.
However, while Simmons may be on the trade table, if a satisfactory deal can’t be reached then the Sixers will be willing to hold onto their man.
“If he can’t get a true headliner back for Simmons in connection with the draft, or when free agency hits in August, some rivals believe Morey is as willing as any executive in his position to let Simmons and (Joel) Embiid start a fifth season together if necessary — even if that means some tension or awkwardness seeps into the locker room when training camp starts in late September,” Stein wrote.
It was only two years ago the 76ers signed Simmons to a five-year, $AUD230 million contract extension, but the shambolic nature of the defeat to Atlanta means Philadelphia has problems it can’t wait that long to fix.
Simmons officially pulled out of the upcoming Olympics and won’t line up alongside his Boomers brothers in Tokyo. Whether he regrets that after seeing the Aussies stun Team USA on Tuesday, only he knows.
Simmons said he wants to spend the NBA off-season working on his skill development and shooting — and last week was spotted at Wimbledon cuddling up to new girlfriend Maya Jama.
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