Star guard/forward Ben Simmons heard the positive takes from 76ers center Joel Embiid, head of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers, and it appears Simmons only wants to be traded even more.
Simmons, 25, is holding out of training camp and seeking a trade.
Embiid said he hopes Simmons changes his mind, and Morey said there is “a lot of hope” around the franchise that the 76ers and Simmons can reconcile. But per Sam Amick of The Athletic, Simmons is only more agitated, particularly after hearing Morey’s comments.
“It’s total bulls-t,” Amick quoted a source with knowledge of Simmons’ thinking as saying.
Overall, Amick reported, the Sixers’ message of hope and positivity “fell flat” with Simmons.
Along with that, Simmons apparently has decided he no longer wants to play with Embiid, though there are no personal issues between the stars, Amick wrote.
“It has run its course,” a source told Amick of the Simmons-Embiid pairing.
Embiid said on media day that Simmons is an important part of the franchise moving forward.
“Of course, we want him back,” Embiid told reporters. “He’s a big piece of what we’ve been doing the past few years.”
Meanwhile, Morey confirmed Monday that Simmons’ representatives requested a trade back in June. Simmons is represented by Rich Paul and Klutch Sports Agency.
Simmons, Paul, Morey, general manager Elton Brand, Rivers and team owner Josh Harris reportedly met last month in Los Angeles to discuss Simmons’ future. Rivers said Monday he’s not sure why Simmons wants out of Philadelphia.
“It’s tough to play here,” Rivers told reporters. “Ben didn’t say that. I can’t say he said that. That’s just an assumption.”
Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported sources as indicating that it will be tough for Simmons to have a “working relationship” with the 76ers. “That stems from feeling thrown under the bus by the team after the Game 7 loss (to the Hawks),” Pompey wrote.
“I really hope he changes his mind,” Embiid added of Simmons. “I do love playing with him because he adds so much to our team. We’ve been building this team around us. I don’t see it as, ‘This is my team.’ I don’t care about any of that.”
That said, there is a “strong expectation” the 76ers could trade Simmons “any day,” Pompey reported.
The Cavaliers, Kings, Timberwolves and Rockets are all said to be some of the more aggressive suitors for Simmons. As an aside, league sources have repeatedly told Hoops Wire that any deal involving Simmons is likely to be between the 76ers, the trade partner, and a third team to assist the deal.
“There are teams that are interested in Ben Simmons, they just don’t want to pay the steep price,” Pompey said during a recent appearance on 97.5 The Fanatic. “Ben Simmons knows that, so they are saying why should we help the 76ers out when they feel like when Doc Rivers said what he said, nobody apologized, and Doc was never reprimanded.”
Pompey was referring to Rivers’ comments after the 76ers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Hawks. When asked if Simmons could be a point guard on a championship-caliber team, Rivers said, “I don’t know the answer to that right now.”
Rivers denied making that comment, though it has been recorded by multiple outlets.
“That’s not what I said, actually,” Rivers said when asked about the comment. “This is when narratives … and this is what makes our jobs hard. I actually said when the guy asked, guys, I’m not answering that stuff right now. I don’t even know how to answer that. So what I was talking about was not answering the question. It had nothing to do with Ben.”
Rivers clarified the remarks in a press conference the following day, then insisted during an ESPN appearance last week that he still believes in Simmons.
“Yeah, all day. All day. He just does so many things, man,” Rivers said, going on to explain how scoring isn’t everything.
“The Ben Wallaces of the world. It was great to see him go into the Hall of Fame. And the Dennis Rodmans of the world … help teams win titles and have Hall of Fame careers without being great scorers,” Rivers said. “I do think Ben (Simmons) can score way more than he has scored, but that’s not what makes him great. What makes him great is all the other things he does.”