Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Ben Simmons had previously made it clear that he never wanted to play for the franchise again and he hasn't been with the club in training camp or for preseason games, but there might be a thawing on both sides that could see Simmons back in time for Philly's season opener next Wednesday in New Orleans. The Sixers are currently 1.5-point favorites on the NBA odds at Caesars Sportsbook.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Sixers officials and Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, have progressed in talks over recent days on a resolution to bring the three-time All-Star back to Philadelphia in the near future. Simmons averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists last season and was a Defensive Player of the Year candidate but of course melted down confidence-wise with his shooting in the playoffs.
Coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey both said they wanted Simmons back, although Morey has definitely been taking calls on Simmons but hasn't gotten an offer he liked yet. Simmons will have lost $1 million in salary once he misses Monday's preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets and he can't recoup that. Philly's final preseason game is Friday in Detroit.
Morey would happily trade Simmons to Washington for Bradley Beal or to Portland for Damian Lillard, but neither the Wizards nor Blazers are interested. Yet. Philadelphia reportedly told the Blazers it would take CJ McCollum but that it would also need three first-round picks and pick swaps in the intervening years. Portland essentially laughed at that high price.
Apparently, the Sixers will continue to "shop" Simmons even if he does report. The most likely trade partners remain the Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings and Indiana Pacers. Simmons coming back and playing well would only help his trade value and potentially speed up a deal. As things stand now, Simmons has basically no leverage because he's under contract and losing money.
It's obviously challenging to bet on any 76ers futures until there's a resolution to the Simmons standoff. They are given an Over/Under win total of 50.5 and +350 second-favorites behind Brooklyn to win the Atlantic Division. The Sixers' home opener is next Friday vs. Brooklyn and it would be fascinating to hear the reaction Simmons might get from the Philly faithful.
The Nets have their own issues right now because Coach Steve Nash admitted over the weekend the plan is for the team to play without Kyrie Irving in home games because he won't get vaccinated and thus isn't allowed to play at home due to New York COVID regulations for the unvaccinated.
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