Simmons gets Suspended

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Updated: October 19, 2021
Doc-Rivers-5

It’s almost as if the 76ers are unaware of the situation they are in because they just keep scooping into the hole and digging themselves deeper and deeper. Yesterday, as should have been expected by the team and coaching staff, Ben Simmons showed up to practice discontent and disengaged. Apparently after big Ben refused to participate in some portion of a drill, Doc Rivers decided to not only kick him out of practice but suspend him for opening day. We are only 2 weeks removed from the day Doc attempted to revise his story and take back his words after the game 7 playoff loss where he stated he was unsure Simmons could be the starting point guard on a winning team. Now, he decides that it’s in the team’s best interest to remove Simmons from the lineup for game one of the 2021-22 season. Quite frankly, he’s right. It will make for a better rotation opening day…but for a man who used to double as a head coach & president of operations in Los Angeles, he really doesn’t get it does he?

The whole point of pressuring Ben into rejoining the team to start the season was to rehabilitate his trade value. The hopes of Daryl Morey and the front office was that Simmons would rack up a couple of 20-point triple-doubles and wash away some of the residues of his disappearance in the playoffs. Considering Simmons has always been an All-Star caliber player in the regular season, I heavily doubt anything short of him adding a jumper to his game is going to sway the minds of GMs around the league, but it was their plan, nonetheless. Instead, they have now made it publicly known that Simmons and the coaching staff have such a strong divide on his current mental state, they feel the need to suspend him for opening day.

Just to double-down on the sentiment, All-NBA center, MVP runner up, and face of the franchise, Joel Embiid decided to add these tasteful words:

“At this point, I don’t care about that man…He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job… I’m only focused on trying to make the team better…At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody…We get paid just on the court. Play hard. Win some games. That’s all we get paid for. We don’t get paid to come out here and try to babysit somebody. That’s not our job. I’m sure my teammates feel that way.”

Considering after a poster jam Giannis Antetokounmpo put on Ben’s head top two seasons back and infamously yelled, “He’s a fucking baby!” maybe using the word babysit twice in a minute wasn’t the best choice of words. So much has been made this offseason by ESPN about how “smart” Joel is and how he represented himself in his negotiations on his recently signed max extension. They claim he is bred for the front office and knows all the details of contracts and player options…

The man was lowkey unstoppable last year on both ends of the floor and ended up 2nd in MVP voting only because he was injured. He got the max with all the bells and whistles, there were little negotiations that needed to happen in organizing the paperwork. The most illuminating thing about Embiid’s future front-office employment isn’t his max extension but his back-and-forth comments on his All-Star teammate Ben Simmons. It is unclear if the front office is empowering Joel to use his mouthpiece to sway public opinion on the topic, but it would be wise to tell him to plead the 5th moving forward. 

The thought was, there is no way that Simmons’ trade value could diminish lower than it already is. Unfortunately for Philly fans, today it has become fully transparent that not only the coaching staff, but the face of the franchise would rather Simmons not be in the rotation for opening day this season. Unquestionably a top 5 defender in the league, a monster in transition, possibly their best facilitator, and a walking double-double is being told to sit out without pay for game 1 of the season because of interpersonal conflict. With this added into the equation, it’s doubtful they got could get Wiggins or CJ straight up in a trade at this point. 

Daryl Morey every morning goes to the Cathedral of St. Peter down on Race Street and lights 16 candles, gives his confessions to the bishop and does the amount of hail Mary’s required for forgiveness. All of these acts are done in exchange for one request he asked the Father, for Beal of Lillard to hit the trade block. Well, it’s not working. Lillard just today doubled-down on his tenure in Portland with these words:

“I’ll answer that the same way I answered it on media day: I’m not leaving Portland…It’s an easy thing and a popular thing to say but it’s not gonna happen…Adversity is going to hit, there’s going to be tough times. So, if it starts off rocky or if it starts out as a struggle, I won’t be happy about it, nobody would. But I’m not going to jump ship and bail out when that happens.”

Regardless if you want to believe these generic statements made by Dame, the truth of the matter is, even if Lillard was swapped straight up for Simmons, Philly still wouldn’t be the favorites in the East over the Bucks or Brooklyn. The most likely trade would send Simmons, Maxey, and Thybulle + stuff to Portland and would leave the Sixers with Embiid, Dame, and no depth in a deep Eastern Conference. Not only that, everyone around the league knows that Embiid being healthy for an entire playoff run is less than 50-50 shot. 

With Beal, the Wizards are going to be a play-in team most likely, or at least create the illusion of them being playoff caliber for portions of the season. He has zero incentive to be traded to Philly, who again would need to send Simmons, Maxey, and Thybulle to execute the deal. Morey has to accept there are no All-NBA guards available in a Simmons exchange. It simply isn’t happening, and they should stop wasting mental energy one mapping out those possibilities. 

What they should focus their energy on is getting their house in order and all of its members on the same page. Because so far the “let’s force Ben to play to up his value” experiment has been an utter failure…and they haven’t even started losing yet.

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