Appearing today on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made it clear he’s in no rush to trade Ben Simmons for less than what the Sixers believe he’s worth.
“People should buckle in, this is going to go a long time,” Morey said, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com (Twitter link).
Morey added that if the Sixers can trade Simmons for a “difference-maker,” they’ll do it, but confirmed the club has no interest in moving the three-time All-Star for role players. In Morey’s view, Philadelphia’s best chance to win a championship would be by either getting Simmons back on the court or waiting until an impact player hits the trade block.
“I would ask the question to Sixers fans: would you rather eliminate a distraction or have lower playoff odds?” Morey said, per Neubeck and Rich Hofmann of The Athletic (Twitter links). “I’m willing to go through mud, muck, barbed wire…we’ll go through whatever it takes…what we’re doing right now gives us the best chance to win the title.”
The standoff between Simmons and the Sixers has seemingly grown more uncomfortable this week. The 25-year-old reported to the team, but has resisted engaging physically or mentally in practices and was suspended for the season opener for conduct detrimental to the team. Reports today indicated that he will meet with team leadership on Friday to discuss his playing status after skipping a scheduled individual workout on Thursday.
While Simmons seems to have little interest in suiting up again for the 76ers after demanding a trade in the offseason, Morey’s comments on 97.5 The Fanatic today suggest the club won’t be pressured into making a deal sooner rather than later.
“You’re going to think I’m kidding, I’m not. This could take four years,” Morey said (Twitter link via Neubeck). “… We’re in the prime of Joel (Embiid)’s career…this is not a day-to-day (issue). Every day, we are going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here, or we trade him for a difference-maker.”
Multiple reports today indicated that Simmons complained of back stiffness and received minor treatment before being cleared by the team’s medical staff. That back tightness hadn’t been treated or mentioned as an issue before today, a source tells Neubeck.
If he has a legitimate injury, that would be a reason for Simmons to miss practices and games while still being paid. However, it sounds like the team doesn’t view Simmons’ back tightness as a serious issue. Multiple sources who spoke to PhillyVoice about Simmons’ suspension earlier this week were prepared for him to use a health-related explanation to avoid playing in Friday’s game, Neubeck says.