ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said he received a text about 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons, who struggled mightily in the playoffs and has already hit the rumor mill as someone Philadelphia will look to trade.
Smith said the text came from someone “very, very close to the situation” and read as follows: “He doesn’t work, he doesn’t listen, and everyone around him is family, and he’s constantly babied.”
Simmons and the Sixers finished with the top seed in the Eastern Conference but lost to the underdog Hawks in seven games in the second round. Simmons has come under fire from fans, former players and the media, and perhaps some of his teammates, for a subpar showing and some historically bad shooting on free throws.
Word is, the Sixers will spend the offseason looking to trade him. Sixers head of basketball of operations Daryl Morey was fairly noncommittal about Simmons when speaking to reporters on Tuesday.
“We have a very strong group we believe in. None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen,” Morey said, via Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Morey added, “Not addressing Ben Simmons [specifically], but any move that will help our team win the championship or improve our odds, we will look [at] and do if it makes sense to do that.”
While Simmons remains one of the league’s premier defenders and a strong facilitator, his shooting woes have become a major concern. He went just 15-of-45 on free throws in the seven-game series vs. the Hawks. For the playoffs, he shot 34.2 percent from the line — the worst in postseason history for players with at least 70 attempts.
This led to Simmons not attacking or being aggressive in the fourth quarter, seemingly out of fear he might get fouled and have to shoot free throws. Without saying any names, Sixers center Joel Embiid more or less called out Simmons.
“Man, I will be honest. I thought the turning point was, you know, when we, I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and they came down and scored,” Embiid said.
Strong perimeter shooting has obviously been coveted by Morey, whose old Rockets teams fired up 3-pointers at a rapid rate.
While Simmons is a fine player and upstanding citizen, the Sixers may think they have to make a trade to get better, and they won’t be dealing Embiid, a finalist for league MVP.
When asked if Simmons is a point guard who can lead the Sixers to a championship, coach Doc Rivers told reporters: “I don’t know that question or the answer to that right now.”
Simmons was involved in trade rumors last offseason and is undoubtedly headed there again. This time, though, they may be a little more real.
Simmons, for his part, said he’d prefer to stay.
“Yeah, I love being in Philly. I love this organization,” he told reporters. “The fans are great people. I had a bad series. I expect that (boos). It’s Philly.”