Ben Simmons

Sixers Notes: Wall, Simmons, Embiid, Training Camp

John Wall‘s contract and injury history prevent him from being a realistic option for the Sixers as they try to work out a Ben Simmons trade, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. The Rockets and Wall have agreed that he won’t play again until he’s traded elsewhere, but Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is looking for a far greater return for Simmons than the 31-year-old point guard.

Wall will make $44.3MM this season and has a $47.4MM player option for 2022/23, which means he, Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris would take up a huge chunk of the Sixers’ salary cap over the next two years. Philadelphia can only take back about $39.5MM by trading Simmons, so the team would have to include at least one more player in any deal for Wall.

Wall played just 40 games last season, which was his first after returning from an Achilles injury. Although he averaged 20.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per night, there are concerns about his overall game and his fit alongside Embiid due to his limited outside shot. Bodner believes the Rockets would have to include several high-value draft picks to get Morey’s attention and doesn’t see the teams as realistic trading partners.

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • ESPN’s Brian Windhorst hears that Sixers fans are part of the reason Simmons wants to leave. Appearing on SiriusXM NBA Radio, Windhorst says Simmons’ relationship with the city soured last season (hat tip to Alek Arend of The Spun). “It’s not just that he doesn’t wanna play there anymore,” Windhorst said. “He doesn’t want to be in front of those fans. I don’t think he ever intends to show his face there again unless he’s part of the visiting team.”
  • The Simmons drama will continue to hang over the Sixers until he either reports to the team or is traded, states Marcus Hayes of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Simmons has insisted that he won’t be present when training camp opens this week, and he reportedly turned down an offer to meet with teammates who want to smooth over the situation. Hayes contends that Simmons’ stance shows a lack of concern for his teammates,  the organization that made him the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016 and the fan base that has supported him.
  • Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer looks at several other training camp storylines, including how Embiid adjusts in the post-Simmons era, the development of second-year guard Tyrese Maxey and other young players, and the addition of Andre Drummond, who has a long-simmering rivalry with Embiid.

Timberwolves Notes: Rosas, Gupta, Finch, Simmons, Towns

The impending ownership change played a role in the surprising dismissal of Gersson Rosas as the Timberwolves‘ president of basketball operations, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Minority partners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez, who will eventually take over for Glen Taylor, are doing a full investigation into the franchise and discovered “disenchantment” among front office employees, sources tell Krawczynski. Considering the team’s poor record with Rosas in charge, Lore and Rodriguez determined that he would eventually need to be replaced, and that decision was sped up with the discovery that Rosas was having a “consensual intimate relationship” with another member of the organization.

Sachin Gupta, who was chosen to replace Rosas, has strong relationships with the new ownership group and will be given a chance to win the job on a more permanent basis, according to sources. He has full power to make decisions on trades and other personnel moves, but will be watched closely to make sure the owners are happy with the direction of the franchise. The Wolves are seeking stability and don’t appear to be searching outside the organization for someone else to take over.

Gupta is a strong supporter of coach Chris Finch, whose job will be safe despite the loss of Rosas, who hired him in February. Finch has “nearly universal approval” throughout the organization, along with the trust of the players. However, he may need a successful season to keep his job if a new lead executive is eventually hired.

There’s more from Minnesota:

  • The front office shakeup won’t affect the Wolves’ chances of trading for Ben Simmons, Krawczynski adds in the same piece. Gupta was involved in the team’s negotiations with Philadelphia, according to sources, and like Rosas, he worked with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey in Houston. Minnesota’s main obstacles to landing Simmons are a lack of assets that appeal to Philadelphia and the difficulty of finding a third team to facilitate a deal.
  • Acquiring Simmons may be the only way to keep Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota for the long term, suggests Michael Rand of The Star-Tribune. The Wolves seem likely to miss the playoffs again with their current roster, which increases the chances that Towns will ask for a trade next summer when he will have just two years left on his contract.
  • The bad decisions made by Rosas show the importance of finding the right person to run the team, states John Hollinger of The Athletic. He notes that the Wolves have a history of front office failure, which is why they have just one playoff appearance over the past 17 years.

Ben Simmons Rejects Meeting With Teammates

Sixers star Ben Simmons recently rejected the opportunity to meet with his teammates in Los Angeles, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Charania notes that players such as Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle planned on traveling to meet with Simmons and change his mind about requesting a trade.

Simmons communicated that he didn’t want his teammates to make the trip, as he has no interest in playing for the Sixers this season. The 25-year-old has held firm on his stance and appears to be mentally checked out from Philadelphia, Charania writes.

Along with various players, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers also recently expressed some hope that Simmons would change his mind and return.

“There’s been so many times this has happened (in sports) that hasn’t been reported…and the guy comes back,” Rivers said last week, as relayed by Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. “So listen, we’re going to go through it. We’re gonna always do what’s best for the team, but I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back, and if we can, we’re gonna try to do that. Ben has a long contract, so it’s in our hands and we want him back.”

The Sixers have received interest for Simmons, but no trade is imminent, according to Charania. The team will host its media day on Monday and begin training camp on Tuesday. With Simmons, the club finished 49-23 last season — good for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Simmons is coming off a season where he averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game. The defensive-minded point forward struggled in the Sixers’ second-round series against the Hawks, however, harming his trade value among rival teams.

Assuming Simmons doesn’t show up for training camp next week, Philadelphia can fine him or withhold game payments. He’s currently in the second season of a five-year, maximum-salary extension signed during the summer of 2019.

Stein’s Latest: Timberwolves, Ujiri, Simmons, Lacob, Dragic

Incoming Timberwolves owners Alex Rodriguez and Marc Lore won’t assume majority control of the the franchise from Glen Taylor until 2023, but they’re operating in some ways as if they’re already the team’s primary owners, says Marc Stein of Substack.

Shortly after Gersson Rosas was dismissed this week, Timberwolves reporter Dane Moore suggested (via Twitter) that rumors have circulated for months that Rodriguez and Lore want to bring in a “top-five” front office executive. Stein doesn’t specifically confirm that rumor, but he corroborates it, writing that word circulated at Summer League in August that A-Rod and Lore would have loved to make a run at veteran executive Masai Ujiri, who ultimately re-upped with the Raptors.

While those reports suggest that the Wolves’ new ownership group wants to make a splash, league sources tell Stein that Sachin Gupta is expected to get every chance to impress the team during his time running the basketball operations department. According to Moore (Twitter link), Gupta – whose title is executive VP of basketball operations – doesn’t technically have the “interim” tag attached to his position, an indication that he’ll receive serious consideration for the permanent job.

Here’s more from Stein’s latest NBA roundup:

  • According to Stein, teams around the NBA are skeptical that the Sixers genuinely want to bring back Ben Simmons, viewing Doc Riversmedia comments on Wednesday as an attempt to regain trade leverage rather than a legitimate effort to mend the team’s relationship with Simmons.
  • It may seem odd that Warriors owner Joe Lacob was fined for comments about Simmons that didn’t even mention him by name and made it clear that Golden State isn’t really interested in the Sixers star. However, Stein says the tampering penalty was “as automatic as these ever get,” since there was no doubt Lacob was referring to Simmons, and his comments could be viewed as an attempt to diminish the 25-year-old’s trade value.
  • It doesn’t appear that any deal involving Goran Dragic is imminent. Stein writes that the Raptors want to be as competitive as possible this season, and Dragic can help with those efforts. Toronto also believes that more appealing trade scenarios could arise once the season gets underway and more teams need a point guard due to injuries or underperformance.

Central Notes: Cavs, Simmons, Bucks, Pistons

Given how frequently the Cavaliers have been linked to Ben Simmons during the past few months, Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com contemplates what it might take for the Cavs to acquire Simmons — and whether they should.

Fedor notes that the Cavaliers, as currently constructed, aren’t an ideal fit for a player with Simmons’ skill set, because they lack the shooters necessary to open the floor for his open-court driving and passing. So even if they did acquire him, they would almost certainly have to make more moves in order to build the team around him.

Fedor speculates that a package of Kevin Love, Collin Sexton, and a pair of protected first-round picks might not entice the 76ers more than other offers they’ve received, or ones they could receive in the weeks ahead. He also adds that while the Cavs have no “untouchables” on the roster, rookie Evan Mobley and improving point guard Darius Garland are the closest bets, and are considered very unlikely to be moved.

Fedor says that there are ultimately more questions than answers to the issue of whether the Cavs should go all-in for Simmons, adding that the team should be patient in its approach to see if the 76ers’ asking price might lessen over time. The article is worth checking out in full.

There’s more from the Central division:

  • The Bucks recently held a free-agent minicamp for their last remaining training camp spot, per our JD Shaw (Twitter link). Former NBA players Allonzo Trier, Antonio Blakeney, Chris McCullough and Josh Gray were among the participants. The Bucks currently only have 13 players with fully guaranteed contracts, so winning a training camp battle could very well be a viable pathway to making the team.
  • The Bucks‘ G League affiliate, the Wisconsin Herd, recently named Chaisson Allen as their new head coach. Allen was a highly regarded college player for Northeastern and spent five seasons playing internationally. He spent last season as an assistant for the Long Island Nets. In the same press release, the Herd also announced that Tony Bollier will serve as the team’s general manager and Arte Culver will be the new assistant general manager.
  • Keith Langlois of Pistons.com explores what the Pistons should do with their open roster spot. The team currently has 14 players under guaranteed contracts after acquiring and buying out DeAndre Jordan. Langlois posits the team could convert Luka Garza from a two-way contract to the main 15-man roster, though the plan is for him to spend significant time in the G league. Langlois notes that converting Garza would free up a two-way spot for summer league standout Jamorko Pickett, who’s currently on an Exhibit 10 deal. Langlois also says the team could keep the spot open for maximum roster flexibility, perhaps adding a 15th man later in the season.

Details On Timberwolves’ Dismissal Of Gersson Rosas

The Timberwolves‘ dismissal of president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas was made for “performance reasons,” a high-ranking team source told Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic. The team’s lack of success during Rosas’ tenure was a key factor in the decision, and complaints from staffers about Rosas’ leadership also played a part, per The Athletic’s duo.

However, another issue that factored into the timing of the move was the fact that the Wolves recently learned that Rosas – who is married – had a “consensual intimate relationship” with a member of the organization, according to Krawczysnki and Charania, who suggest that the relationship made several people within the franchise uncomfortable.

The Athletic’s deep dive into the situation in Minnesota’s front office uncovered sources who said Rosas worked his staffers long hours without giving them much input into personnel decisions. Some members of the front office took issue with those decisions, such as the one to include such light protections (top-three) on the first-round pick the Wolves sent Golden State in the D’Angelo Russell trade.

Rosas did have backers within the organization, including some who reached out to The Athletic in recent weeks to defend the way things were going, per Krawczynski and Charania. Some of Rosas’ defenders believe the pandemic and the change of ownership were factors that contributed to tension in the front office, while Rosas himself “vehemently disputed” that there were any significant problems with the team’s culture.

Still, many of The Athletic’s sources described Rosas’ tenure as dysfunctional, and when those complaints reached ownership, Glen Taylor, Alex Rodriguez, and Marc Lore decided the situation was untenable and a move needed to be made sooner rather than later.

“It’s hard,” said one staffer who followed Rosas to Minnesota after he was hired in 2019. “He’s not who I thought he was.”

The report from Krawczynski and Charania is worth checking out in full if you’re an Athletic subscriber. Here are some of the other highlights:

  • New interim head of basketball operations Sachin Gupta is well-regarded by team officials and is expected to get a chance to earn the permanent job, sources tell The Athletic. However, Krawczynski and Charania note that Gupta did “butt heads” with Rosas this summer when Gupta sought to make a lateral move to the Rockets for a similar job with higher pay, and Rosas blocked him. Rosas defended the decision by saying that the move wouldn’t have been a promotion, and it was too close to the draft and free agency to let a top executive with so much knowledge of Minnesota’s plans leave to join a rival. According to The Athletic, Rosas “banished” Gupta from the team’s offices in August and allowed him to seek employment elsewhere at that point, but Gupta decided to stay with the Wolves after ownership got involved.
  • Some player agents had issues with Rosas’ negotiating tactics, according to Krawczynski and Charania, who point to the team’s recent contract talks with Jordan McLaughlin as one example. A source tells The Athletic that Rosas reneged on promises about the role McLaughlin would have going forward after Patrick Beverley was acquired. Although agents recognized Rosas’ primary allegiance was to the organization, they expected better treatment in certain scenarios, according to The Athletic’s duo. “Rosas was the cause of mishaps and pulled his promises,” the source said of the McLaughlin negotiations.
  • Rosas’ decision to replace head coach Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch during the season without considering any other candidates – including minority candidates – wasn’t popular with some staffers, and neither was the decision to part with veteran scout Zarko Durisic last year, per Krawczysnki and Charania. Some people believed those moves flew in the face of Rosas’ portrayal of the organization as a “family.”
  • Krawczynski and Charania say Rosas was “working feverishly” this offseason to try to acquire Ben Simmons, who was viewed by some people in the organization as the roster’s missing piece. It’s unclear if Gupta will have the same level of interest in the Sixers star.
  • A report from Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report confirms and adds some details to many of the issues reported by The Athletic, including the recent discovery of Rosas’ “consensual extramarital affair” with a team staffer.

Warriors Notes: Wiseman, Player Development, Lacob

James Wiseman‘s inability to participate fully in training camp will hurt the Warriors more than any games he might miss at the start of the season, Anthony Slater of The Athletic opines. Wiseman’s development is crucial to making the team relevant again, due to his physical gifts that can add an explosive dimension it currently lacks on the interior. Wiseman is expected to participate in individual shooting and other individual on-court activities during camp. His return to full practices will be determined after October 15, when he’s expected to begin full jumping on the surgically repaired knee.

We have more on the Warriors:

  • The team has invested heavily this offseason in player development, as Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area details. The additions of former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson along with Dejan Milojević and Jama Mahlalela were made due their reputations for developing young talent. All three have been on the job since June, Poole adds.
  • Owner Joe Lacob has been fined $50K for comments regarding Ben Simmons, the NBA announced today (via Twitter). The league deemed the comments as a violation of its anti-tampering rules. Lacob said it’s unlikely the team will trade for disgruntled Sixers star.
  • Lacob believes the franchise is on track for another championship, according to Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Hopefully, this year, we’ll compete for a championship,” he said. “I think we should. Over the next 4-5 years, I think we should continue that and have a second great decade in a row.”

Doc Rivers Says Sixers Want Ben Simmons Back

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers appeared on a pair of ESPN shows on Wednesday to address the Ben Simmons situation, expressing on both ‘Keyshawn, JWill, and Max’ and ‘First Take’ that he wants to see the 25-year-old return to Philadelphia for the coming season.

Simmons is reportedly adamantly opposed to the idea of reporting to training camp or playing another game for the 76ers, but Rivers said in his first ESPN appearance on Monday morning that he hopes he and the team can “change that thought.” He later explicitly stated during his First Take appearance that he’d “love” to see Simmons returns to the club, adding that the team hired a shooting coach to help him improve that aspect of his game.

“There’s been so many times this has happened (in sports) that hasn’t been reported…and the guy comes back,” Rivers said, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. “So listen, we’re going to go through it. We’re gonna always do what’s best for the team, but I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back, and if we can, we’re gonna try to do that. Ben has a long contract, so it’s in our hands and we want him back.”

Rivers confirmed reports that Simmons told team leaders – including Rivers, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, and club owner Josh Harris – in a meeting last month that he wanted to be traded. According to Rivers, it was a “good conversation” and Simmons provided reasons why he didn’t want to return, but the Sixers “obviously didn’t agree” with his arguments.

One of the most interesting aspect of Rivers’ media appearances today was his insistence that his comments about Simmons following Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals were misrepresented by the media. Asked at that time whether he believed Simmons could be the point guard for a championship team, Rivers replied, “I don’t know that question or the answer to that right now. You know, so I don’t know the answer to that.” Today, he attempted to reframe that response.

“My answer was, ‘I’m not answering any of that stuff right now, guys, I don’t even know how to answer that,'” Rivers told Stephen A. Smith on First Take. “… I was basically just saying, ‘I’m not answering that crap, those questions.’ It was being portrayed that I was out there saying, ‘I don’t think we can win with Ben,’ and I do. I told Ben that the next day. What really disappointed me was the next day I went on and said, ‘Guys, y’all knew exactly what I was talking about,’ and no one heard it. They just kept running their narrative.”

While Rivers insisted today on ESPN that Simmons and agent Rich Paul know what he meant, a report earlier this month suggested that Simmons’ camp wasn’t thrilled with Rivers’ comments, so it’s unclear if everyone is on the same page.

Assuming Rivers’ efforts to get Simmons to camp are unsuccessful, this situation will start to get especially interesting next week, when players are scheduled to report to training camps. As Bobby Marks of ESPN explains in an Instagram video, the 76ers would likely be comfortable assessing Simmons a series of small fines if he misses media day (on Monday) and the team’s first few practices. After that though, the financial decisions become more complicated.

Simmons is owed 25% of his $33MM salary for 2021/22 on October 1, and Marks suggests that withholding that payment would be an option for the Sixers if they don’t expect to mend fences with Simmons and are willing to enter an arbitration battle. Suspending Simmons would be another option — in that scenario, he’d lose 1/145th of his salary (about $228K) per game for the first 20 games he misses, then 1/110th of his salary per game after that.

Warriors’ Owner Suggests Trade For Simmons Unlikely

Multiple reports this offseason have suggested that Sixers star Ben Simmons would like to be traded to a West Coast team, but it doesn’t sound as if the Warriors are looking to pull the trigger on a deal for the three-time All-Star, as Rusty Simmons of The San Francisco Chronicle writes.

Simmons spoke to Warriors owner Joe Lacob about the possibility of trading for Simmons, and while Lacob was careful not to mention the 25-year-old by name in an effort to avoid a tampering fine, there was no doubt about which player he was referring to when he discussed a certain “Defensive Player of the Year candidate in Philadelphia.” Lacob said Golden State will always explore avenues to upgrade the roster, but strongly hinted that a trade for Simmons is unlikely.

“In some ways, it doesn’t really fit what we’re doing. He makes a lot of money. And, can he finish games? I don’t know,” Lacob said. “He’s very talented. The problem is: We have Draymond (Green). Draymond and him are very similar in the sense that neither one really shoots and they do a lot of the play-making. That’s one issue. The salary structure is another.”

The Warriors were viewed as a top candidate to make a major trade earlier in the offseason, when they could dangle two 2021 lottery picks in advance of this year’s draft. Once they used those two picks to select Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, a blockbuster deal became less likely for the Dubs, who appear focused on developing their rookies and young center James Wiseman rather than packaging them for a star.

“I like our team,” general manager Bob Myers said, per Simmons. “And I envision that the team we have will be the team that heads into camp and will be the team that starts the season.”

If Golden State isn’t seriously in the running for Simmons, who remains adamant about holding out and forcing a deal, it will take one potential trade partner off the table for the Sixers. However, a number of other suitors have reportedly discussed Simmons with Philadelphia this offseason, including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings, among others.

Stein’s Latest: Simmons, Sixers, NBPA Executive Director

The structure of Ben Simmons‘ contract may embolden him in his plans to hold out from the Sixers, Marc Stein of Substack writes in his latest newsletter. As Stein explains, Simmons received 25% of his 2021/22 salary on August 1 and will receive another 25% on October 1, meaning he’ll already have earned half of his $33MM salary for the season by the time the preseason starts.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons Adamant About Not Attending Camp, Not Playing For Sixers]

League rules permit the Sixers to assess substantial fines for each game he misses during his holdout (approximately $228K per game), but Stein suggests those fines won’t be docked from Simmons’ pay until November, after the first pay period of the regular season. If Simmons was on a more traditional payment schedule, those fines would be more costly, but it will take a while for them to put a dent into the $16.5MM he’ll already have earned this season.

Here’s more from Stein:

  • Don’t expect the Sixers and Simmons to follow the blueprint that Al Horford and the Thunder or John Wall and the Rockets have, according to Stein. While those rebuilding teams were comfortable holding out their veteran players until they found a suitable trade partner, the 76ers continue to try to convince Simmons to report to training camp and have “zero interest” in reaching a mutual agreement to allow the three-time All-Star to remain away from the team, says Stein.
  • According to Stein, many of the teams that have engaged the Sixers in Simmons trade talks – including the Timberwolves, Raptors, Spurs, Cavaliers, and Kings – typically aren’t major players in free agency, and like the idea of securing a young impact player who is under contract for four years. However, most of those teams don’t have stars that would interest Philadelphia, or have made them unavailable in trade negotiations (such as the Wolves with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, or the Kings with De’Aaron Fox).
  • The NBPA has enlisted Chicago-based search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help seek out a new executive director to replace Michele Roberts, according to Stein, who says that “well-placed observers” believe Roberts’ replacement could be an unexpected selection who hasn’t yet been publicly identified.
  • Stein, who previously named Malik Rose as a candidate to become the NBPA’s executive director, suggests Noah Croom, Arne Duncan, Nichole Francis Reynolds, Pat Garrity, and Mark Termini are other viable contenders for the job. Croom and Garrity are veteran team executives, Termini is a longtime player agent, and Duncan and Reynolds work outside of the NBA in education/politics and business, respectively.