Joel Embiid

Sixers Notes: Roberts, Simmons, Morey, Embiid

NBPA executive director Michele Roberts is defending Ben Simmons against accusations that he might be claiming psychological issues as an excuse to avoid playing, writes Liz Roscher of Yahoo Sports. Simmons told his Sixers teammates and coach Doc Rivers on Friday that’s he’s not mentally ready to start playing for the team again. That prompted skeptics to question Simmons’ motives since he claimed a medical issue with back tightness earlier this week.

Roberts threw her support behind Simmons and blasted Philadelphia president of basketball operations Daryl Morey for suggesting that it could take a long time to find an acceptable trade, possibly even the four years that Simmons has left on his contract.

“Really? Is it so hard to believe that Ben’s not mentally at a place to compete? Professional athletes — like the rest of us — have difficult periods in our lives that require time and energy to heal,” Roberts said. “We have and will continue to provide Ben with the support and resources he needs to work through this. Threatening the prospect of ‘another four years’ serves no one’s interests. Like Tobias (Harris), I say let’s respect Ben’s space and embrace him while allowing him the time to move forward. So, take a breath and count to 10: We are all too good to continue to play this perpetual game of chicken.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Morey has called around the league in an effort to work out a trade for Simmons, but he hasn’t contacted the Nets to inquire about Kyrie Irving, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said Friday on “NBA Countdown” (video link). Woj adds that Brooklyn GM Sean Marks has accepted calls about Irving, but he hasn’t reached out to other teams about the star guard, who is inactive because of vaccination issues.
  • At a team meeting Friday, Joel Embiid asked Simmons why he wants to be traded, tweets Shams Charania of The Athletic. Simmons responded that he isn’t feeling like himself mentally and needs some time away from the team. Harris and other team leaders expressed support for Simmons, sources tell Charania.
  • Soreness in his right knee is already an issue for Embiid, per Tim Bontemps and Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. Embiid was having trouble moving Friday after a collision in the season opener, but he intends to continue playing if the pain doesn’t get worse. “I mean, after last game, that was a pretty good hit by the big fella, but we’ll see how it feels tomorrow, but I’m not planning on sitting,” he said. “I want to keep playing as long as there’s not any big damage on it.”

Sixers Surprised By Timing Of Ben Simmons’ Return

Although the Sixers had become increasingly optimistic about the possibility of Ben Simmons reporting to Philadelphia, they’d expected it to happen sometime later this week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who says the club was surprised to see Simmons return to the arena on Monday to take his mandatory COVID-19 test.

“All of the sudden, near the opening tip tonight of that Brooklyn/Philly preseason game, I’m told that (general manager) Elton Brand gets a text message essentially saying, ‘Hey, Ben’s outside the building, he needs to get in and come take his COVID test,'” Wojnarowski said during an appearance on Sportscenter on Monday night (video link). “And that’s how the Sixers found out that Ben Simmons – after two weeks away in the preseason – had returned to Philadelphia.”

Simmons’ holdout may be over, but it remains to be seen what exactly comes next for him and the team, according to Wojnarowski, who says it’s unclear whether the three-time All-Star plans to “merely report to team or truly rejoin the team.”

A league source recently told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Simmons still doesn’t intend to play in a game for the 76ers, but head coach Doc Rivers remains optimistic about getting the 25-year-old back on the court.

“We’ve said from Day 1 what we wanted,” Rivers said before Monday’s game. “That we would love to get him back. … My guess is if and when he comes, I think he will be ready to play.”

Sources tell Wojnarowski that there’s an expectation Simmons will meet with franchise leadership on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. The discussions that take place during that meeting should help determine the next steps for the two sides.

Here’s more on the situation:

  • Pompey provides a few more interesting details in his report, writing that Simmons has officially put both of his Philadelphia-area residences up for sale and noting that Sixers fans in the nosebleed section on Monday chanted, “(Expletive) Ben Simmons!” late in the game.
  • If Simmons is willing to reintegrate with the Sixers, his camp and the club are expected to discuss the possibility of him recouping some of the money he lost when he was fined for missed practices and games over the last couple weeks, per Wojnarowski.
  • The 76ers haven’t come close to finding a trade they like for Simmons and don’t have any traction on a deal at this point, sources tell ESPN. However, Wojnarowski acknowledges the trade market could “shift quickly” once the regular season gets underway.
  • Asked on Monday about Simmons’ potential return, star center Joel Embiid, who admitted he hadn’t talked to his All-Star teammate over the offseason, provided the following response, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com: “It’s unfortunate the whole situation happened, but we’re a better team with him on the floor. I think there are going to be some adjustments, but it doesn’t need to be awkward. We are professionals, we want to win. I want to win. He gives me the best chance to win, so that’s what I’m going to go with. But as far as coming back and all that, we’ve made a few adjustments, and he’s just got to come in and buy in and we’re going to be fine. Last year we were the No. 1 seed. You just got to buy in and we’re going to be fine.”

Six Teams Still Inquiring About Simmons’ Availability

The Timberwolves, Pacers, Cavaliers, Pistons, Raptors and Spurs continue to inquire about Ben Simmons’ availability, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports via a league source.

The Simmons saga is one of the major storylines of this preseason and it took another twist on Friday when reports surfaced that the Sixers were withholding an $8.25MM advance payment from their disgruntled playmaker.

However, as Pompey points out, this standoff could drag on until after December 15, when many free agents signed this summer can be included in trades.

The Sixers have put an exorbitant price tag on Simmons, in part while waiting to see if the Trail Blazers made Damian Lillard available or if the Wizards were willing to part with Bradley Beal. Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, tried to assist the Sixers in receiving a five-player package for Simmons in a three-team trade but Philadelphia’s asking price was too rich, according to Pompey.

The withheld salary has been placed in an escrow account. Simmons is likely to receive all the money in his contract once he’s traded, Pompey notes, since it’s expected the team that acquires him will waive the fines the Sixers have instituted for his refusal to show up for training camp.

The Inquirer’s beat writer explored the standoff in great detail. Here are some highlights:

  • Simmons’ desire to be traded was communicated to the front office just days after the team was eliminated from the playoffs. Paul told GM Elton Brand his client wanted out three days after the Hawks bounced the team out of the playoff chase. Brand then told president of basketball operations Daryl Morey.
  • When the Sixers asked why Simmons wanted out, Paul told them his client was “mentally exhausted,” says Pompey.
  • When Morey was hired last November, Simmons suspected he wouldn’t be with the franchise long-term. He was the centerpiece in trade talks with Morey’s former team, Houston, in the Sixers’ failed attempt to acquire James Harden. Simmons even went house shopping in Houston in anticipation of being dealt.
  • Simmons doesn’t have any ill will toward his All-Star teammate Joel Embiid, but believes their partnership on the court has “run its course.” Even if he does return to Philadelphia to rejoin the team, Simmons has no intentions of playing another game for the Sixers.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Simmons, Niang, Milton

Asked on Thursday about recent reports that stated Ben Simmons wants an offense built around him and doesn’t want to play with Joel Embiid anymore, the Sixers‘ star center was anything but evasive. Embiid provided reporters with a four-minute response, pushing back against the idea that the team has built its offense around him and neglected Simmons’ needs.

“I feel like our teams have been built, whether it’s the shooting needed or stretch five and all that stuff, I feel like he’s always had it here,” Embiid said, according to Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com. “And we still have it. Seth (Curry), one of the best three point shooters ever. Danny Green, Tobias (Harris) is a 40 percent three point shooter. Furkan (Korkmaz) coming off of the bench. At times Shake (Milton), I think he can be a better shooter, but you know, he can get hot. We just added Georges (Niang). So I feel like, our teams have always been built around his needs.

It was kind of surprising to see. We’ll say that, even going back to, I mean, the reason we signed Al (Horford). We got rid of Jimmy (Butler), which I still think it was a mistake, just to make sure he needed the ball in his hands, and that’s the decision they made. Like I said, it is surprising.”

Embiid went on to say the situation was “disappointing” and “borderline disrespectful” to the players on the 76ers’ roster whose spots aren’t as secure as Embiid’s or Simmons’.

Some guys rely on the team being successful to stay in the league and make money somehow,” Embiid said. “Because if you’re on a winning team, you’re always going to have a spot in the league, just because you’re on a winning team and you contributed.”

Embiid did stress that the Sixers are a much better team with Simmons than without him, adding that he hopes his All-Star teammate chooses to end his holdout and report to the club. However, if Simmons was unmoved by Embiid’s more conciliatory comments on Media Day, it’s unlikely that he’ll be swayed by the big man’s more combative response today.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • ESPN’s Bobby Marks (Insider link) took a deep dive into the Simmons situation to try to identify the teams that could use the three-time All-Star and have the right combination of players, contracts, and draft assets to make a viable offer for him. Marks names the Trail Blazers, Cavaliers, Pacers, Timberwolves, Spurs, and Raptors as the six clubs that check all the boxes.
  • Without Simmons in their starting lineup, the Sixers will likely sacrifice some size and will be without their top perimeter defender. Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer explores the ripple effect of Simmons’ absence, noting that the team is considering experimenting with a big starting lineup that includes Georges Niang. “There’s options there,” head coach Doc Rivers said. “We don’t know if any of them work yet.”
  • Since Tyrese Maxey is expected to be part of the Sixers’ regular starting lineup, Shake Milton will be tasked with leading the second unit, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Rivers is pleased with what he’s seen from Milton so far in that role. “You can tell he’s put a lot of work in at that position,” the head coach said. “Last year, honestly, he came into the year and had no idea that he’d be a point guard.”

Latest On Ben Simmons

The primary motivation for Ben Simmons‘ trade demand and holdout is to steer him to a team that would build around him on offense, league sources tell Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer. O’Connor’s story comes on the heels of a Tuesday report which suggested that Simmons no longer wants to play with Joel Embiid, whose style of play isn’t considered conducive to the way Simmons wants to play on offense.

However, according to O’Connor’s sources, Simmons didn’t make it clear during his August meeting with the Sixers‘ brass that his offensive role was a major problem. During that meeting, O’Connor says, head coach Doc Rivers outlined a plan to stagger Simmons’ and Emibiid’s minutes more often, frequently using Simmons more like the Bucks use Giannis Antetokounmpo, with four shooters around him. It sounds as if the three-time All-Star wasn’t enthused by the team’s pitch.

League sources tell The Ringer that the Rockets planned on building their system around Simmons if they had taken the Sixers’ trade offer for James Harden last season, but obviously that didn’t come to fruition. It’s unclear whether any of Simmons’ current suitors are prepared to provide him with the offensive environment he’s looking for — O’Connor suggests that the Kings might be the best candidate to do so.

Here’s more on the Simmons situation:

  • O’Connor acknowledges that things can change quickly, but said that as of Tuesday, league sources didn’t get the sense that the Sixers were close to trading Simmons. As O’Connor notes, with Philadelphia not especially interested in packages heavy on draft picks and prospects and so many veterans ineligible to be dealt until at least December 15, it could still be a while before the 76ers start getting offers they deem acceptable.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (Twitter link) has heard that the Sixers are targeting potential trade partners in the Western Conference.
  • With Simmons unavailable, Tyrese Maxey has taken the reins as the lead point guard, writes Gina Mizell of The Philadelphia Inquirer. However, Rivers and the 76ers are prepared to try out some unconventional ball-handling options beyond Maxey. According to Mizell, Rivers said that Furkan Korkmaz and Georges Niang were “very effective” at bringing up the ball with the reserves on Tuesday.

Ben Simmons Unmoved By Sixers’ Media Day Comments

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and star center Joel Embiid were among the prominent figures within the organization who spoke on Monday at the team’s Media Day about the Ben Simmons situation, expressing a hope that the three-time All-Star would end his holdout and report to Philadelphia.

However, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the team’s messages “fell flat” from the perspective of Simmons and his camp, and – if anything – only added to the 25-year-old’s agitation. Amick suggests that Morey’s claim about there being “a lot of hope” for reconciliation was seen as particularly laughable.

“It’s total bulls–t,” one source with knowledge of Simmons’ thinking said of Morey’s comments, per Amick.

Asked on Monday why Simmons wanted out, head coach Doc Rivers was evasive, suggesting that Philadelphia is a tough place to play, then admitting that Simmons hadn’t specifically given that reason. According to Amick, those comments from Rivers – which shifted the blame away from the team and placed it on Simmons’ relationship with the fans – didn’t help matters either.

Here’s more from Amick on the Simmons situation:

  • Although there’s no animosity between the two stars at a personal level, people with knowledge of the situation believe Simmons has decided he’s done playing with Embiid, says Amick. Sources tell The Athletic that Simmons believes the club’s choice to build its system around Embiid’s style of play isn’t conducive to the way Simmons needs to play. “It has run its course,” an Amick source said of the pairing of the two All-Stars.
  • Simmons and his camp had hoped to avoid this kind of training camp circus when they went to Sixers management and directly requested a trade earlier in the offseason, according to Amick, who suggests the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up thought he would’ve been moved by now.
  • Simmons was so convinced back in January that he’d be traded to the Rockets in a deal for James Harden that he actually started researching Houston real estate, reports Amick. When Harden was sent to Brooklyn, Simmons didn’t publicly gripe about sticking with the Sixers, but it certainly seems possible that the relationship between the two sides had begun fraying as a result of those public negotiations.

Daryl Morey, Joel Embiid Discuss Ben Simmons’ Holdout

As expected, Ben Simmons wasn’t present at the Sixers‘ Media Day on Monday, and his absence was the subject of plenty of discussion during the press conferences with president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, head coach Doc Rivers, and star center Joel Embiid, among others.

As Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com tweets, Morey confirmed that Simmons and his camp asked the team for a trade as far back as the draft combine in Chicago this spring. However, Philadelphia’s head of basketball operations insisted that the club didn’t want to make a trade then or now, suggesting that there’s still “a lot of hope” for reconciliation (Twitter link via Chris Mannix of SI.com).

Morey pointed to this year’s standoff between the NFL’s Green Bay Pacers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers – who is still with the team – as an example of how a relationship that seemed destined for an end can still be mended (Twitter link via Michael Lee of The Washington Post). According to Morey, he hasn’t talked to Simmons himself in about six or seven weeks, but remains in frequent communication with the 25-year-old’s representatives (Twitter link via Neubeck).

Asked about next steps if Simmons remains away from the team, Morey hinted that fines will be coming, telling reporters that it’s “very clearly spelled out” in both Simmons’ contract and the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement what will happen (Twitter link via Neubeck). For what it’s worth, sources have told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Simmons isn’t concerned about the potential fines and that money is playing “no role” in his decision-making.

Here’s more out of Philadelphia:

  • Asked today about Simmons, Embiid replied, “Of course we want him back, he’s a big piece of what we’ve been building the past few years” (Twitter link via Neuebeck). The star center added that he’s “disappointed” with how the situation has played out. I really hope he changes his mind,” Embiid said. “… 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” (Twitter link via Derek Bodner of The Athletic).
  • Embiid said today that dealing with trade rumors is something all players have to learn to deal with (Twitter link via Tim Bontemps of ESPN). “If the Warriors called and offered Steph (Curry) and Klay (Thompson) for me, do you think the Sixers would say no to that?” Embiid asked. “… I wouldn’t say no to that.”
  • Embiid confirmed that he and some teammates tried to travel to California to meet with Simmons. As The Athletic reported over the weekend, Simmons turned down that meeting. I guess we got to let him be himself,” Embiid said (Twitter link via Neubeck).
  • As Darryn Albert of Larry Brown Sports relays, Danny Green – in the most recent episode of his podcast – also discussed that attempted sit-down with Simmons. “This has nothing to do with the organization,” Green said. “This has to do with us. We just want to meet with him on a personal level, on a human being, friend level. If he still considers us friends, we don’t know if that’s the case yet or not.”
  • Rivers declined to state his plans for the point guard position if Simmons doesn’t return, but strongly implied that Tyrese Maxey would be in line for the role, tweets Bontemps.

And-Ones: Beauchamp, Hayward, Turner, Hands, Silver, Vaccinations

The G League Ignite team has signed MarJon Beauchamp, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN. Beauchamp, ranked No. 47 on ESPN’s prospect list for the Class of 2020, elected not to sign with a college due to questions about his amateur status. He attended four high schools and most recently a junior college.

“I thought this was the best route I could go,” Beauchamp said. “I’ve been off the radar for a while, but I’m glad to get an opportunity from [G League executives] Rod Strickland and Shareef Abdur-Rahim. … I’m confident that I can be a top pick next year with this platform. “

Beauchamp joins five-star high school recruits Jaden Hardy, Scoot Henderson and Michael Foster on Ignite’s roster, as well as Australian Dyson Daniels, a projected top-20 pick.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Gordon Hayward, Myles Turner and Joel Embiid are expected to fully participate in their training camps, according to David Aldridge of The Athletic, who offers a number of updates on prominent players that headed into the offseason with injuries. Some others, including Victor Oladipo, have not yet been cleared for camp activities, while Nets stars Kyrie Irving and James Harden are expected to be ready for action when the regular season begins.
  • Jaylen Hands has signed to play in Germany with MHP Riesen Ludwigsburg, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. Hands most recently played in the Las Vegas summer league with the Cavaliers. The former UCLA standout was a second-round pick in 2019.
  • NBA Commissioner Adam Silver offers congratulations to Tamika Tremaglio, who has been named the incoming NBPA executive director, NBA Communications tweets. “We look forward to working with her, NBPA President CJ McCollum and all the players as we continue to build on our strong partnership and grow our game globally,” Silver added. “I also want to thank Michele Roberts for her leadership in navigating one of the most challenging stretches in the NBA’s history and wish her well as she begins a new chapter.”
  • Vaccination rates among players have reached 90 percent, Shams Charania of The Athletic tweets. The numbers have been climbing with the opening of training camps approaching.

Ben Simmons Rumors: Embiid, Kings, Warriors, More

Within a Tuesday column on the SixersBen Simmons dilemma, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today cited a person with knowledge of the situation who said there’s a rift between Simmons and star center Joel Embiid that had been “escalating” leading up to this summer. However, in a tweet published on Wednesday, Embiid pushed back on that claim.

Stop using my name to push people’s agendas,” Embiid wrote. “I love and hate drama. I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie. He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back cuz we know we’re good enough to win.”

In the wake of Tuesday’s report that Simmons has told the Sixers he wants to be traded and doesn’t plan to report to training camp, we’ve got several more Simmons-related items to pass along today. Let’s dive in…

  • A trade sending Simmons to the Kings might be a long shot, according to Jason Anderson of The Sacramento Bee, who hears that the Sixers would only be willing to consider a package that includes either De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton. As we detailed on Tuesday, Sacramento is unlikely to part with either player.
  • Any interest the Warriors might have in Simmons is “conditional,” according to Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area, who suggests Golden State is hesitant to pair the three-time All-Star with Draymond Green, another strong defender who isn’t much of a scorer. Sources tell Poole that the Warriors are “divided” on the Simmons/Green fit, and that some people in the organization see potential in the pairing, while others believe having two non-shooters on the court would hamstring the offense too significantly. It’s also extremely unlikely that the team would move Green in a Simmons deal, Poole adds.
  • Unlike other teams that have traded star players in recent years, such as the Pelicans with Anthony Davis or the Rockets with James Harden, the Sixers have no intention of landing in the lottery after trading Simmons, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic, noting that Philadelphia finds itself in an unusual spot. New Orleans and Houston were willing to wait out ugly situations for months before trading their respective stars, and it will be interesting to see if the 76ers are willing to do the same with Simmons, who isn’t quite at the same level as a Davis or a Harden, Bodner observes.
  • The time for “mutually beneficial maneuvering” seems to have passed for the Sixers and Simmons, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice, who says it’s now just a matter of seeing which side wins the stare-down.

Sixers Notes: Floor/Ceiling, Reed, Milton, Personnel Changes

In a mailbag for The Philly Voice, Kyle Neubeck examines the potential floor and ceiling of the Sixers, assuming they take their current roster into the regular season.

As Neubeck outlines, a worst-case scenario would see a disgruntled Ben Simmons refusing to rejoin the team and president Daryl Morey sticking to his very high trade demands for the point guard, causing the Sixers to fall way behind during a difficult start to the season and not being able to recover, especially if Joel Embiid happens to miss any time due to injury.

What Neubeck refers to as the “pie in the sky” scenario is that – with last year’s playoff humiliation behind him – things click into place for Simmons, who comes back renewed and recommitted, and the Sixers continue their hunt for a championship. A more realistic ceiling, Neubeck writes, is that the team plays together for one more year, as Simmons returns to form, Tyrese Maxey takes a mini-leap and Embiid stays relatively healthy, all of which should combine to give the 76ers a decent chance against the other top teams in the East.

We have more on the Sixers:

  • Neubeck also examines the question of what G League and Summer League standout Paul Reed needs to add to his game to become a consistent rotation player. The two keys are the outside shot and converting his impressive shot-blocking numbers into genuine back-line organizational ability. There’s a difference between blocking shots and being the backbone of a team’s defense, Neubeck writes, but Reed showed improved decision-making under the Summer League coaches, and should be able to progress in that department in time.
  • As for guard Shake Milton and his role with the team moving forward, Neubeck writes that being the only consistent offensive force off the bench probably over-burdened the 24-year-old guard, but Maxey’s emergence as a point guard could help simplify Milton’s role as more of a pure scorer. Given that Milton is on a cheap contract and has proven capable of swinging a crucial playoff game single-handedly, Neubeck writes that there’s no reason to think he isn’t a part of the team’s plans.
  • In a surprise move, the Sixers dismissed several scouting and development staff members, tweets Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer. Scouts Rod Baker and Jordan Cohn were let go, as was Delaware Blue Coats GM Matt Lilly, among others. Pompey writes in a separate tweet that around 17 staff members were let go in the cost-cutting move. Senior Director of Equipment Operations Scott Rego, who had been with the team for 34 years, was among the firings.