Ben Simmons’ Own 76ers Teammate and Fellow Klutch Sports Representative Keeps Making Him Look More Expendable

Ben Simmons‘ absence created a hole in the backcourt for the Philadelphia 76ers. That hole is being filled by none other than Tyrese Maxey, who shares the very same agency as Simmons.

Initially, it appeared as though Maxey could follow Simmons out the door when the Sixers guard requested a trade earlier in the offseason. Rumors suggested that Rich Paul, who represents Simmons and Maxey at Klutch Sports, wanted the 76ers to trade both of his clients, ideally in the same package.

Instead, the Klutch clients remain in Philadelphia. While Simmons’ timetable for a return to the floor remains unclear, Maxey is seizing the opportunity while seemingly playing a role in possibly motivating the Sixers to move Simmons sooner rather than later.

Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers remain on uneven ground

Although Ben Simmons ultimately reported to 76ers training camp, the action hardly smoothed things over with the organization.

Head coach Doc Rivers threw Simmons out of a practice. The 25-year-old told team officials he did not feel mentally ready to play, but then the Sixers to showed frustration at Simmons’ unwillingness to meet with the team’s recommended health specialist.

Simmons since chose to comply with the team by meeting the recommended specialist, but only after the team resumed fining him. The chain of events begs the question: What is Simmons’ motive? Does he want to work on himself and return to the 76ers, or is he intent on finding a route out of town?

During Tuesday’s edition of Inside the NBA, Charles Barkley called out the Sixers, suggesting the team must stop catering to the polarizing point guard. Chuck hinted at the team serving Simmons an ultimatum.

Realistically, the situation is still very much up for grabs. Simmons is not going anywhere unless 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey lowers the asking price. However, Tyrese Maxey’s strong play might prompt Morey to do just that.

Tyrese Maxey is excelling in the starting lineup and could convince the 76ers to lower the price tag on Simmons

Tyrese Maxey’s sophomore campaign is off to a flying start. The 21-year-old is playing so well and showing such salivating and projectable offensive skills that he might play a role in the Sixers’ willingness to lower the price tag on Simmons.

Maxey is averaging 15.8 points, 4.7 assists, and 3.8 rebounds through 12 games, shooting 49% from the field and 38.5% from beyond the arc on 3.3 attempts per game. He put on a show against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 9.

The former Kentucky standout poured in a season-high 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting, including 4-of-9 from deep. His scoring ability is immediately distinguishable from Simmons’ offensive game. Maxey creates for himself almost with ease. He can pull up off the dribble or get to the rim with a quick first step. The shot-making against the Bucks impressed, as Maxey filled it up from any spot on the floor while showcasing some crafty finishes at the cup.

Another important note: Maxey did not commit a single turnover in either of his past two games. That’s over 78 minutes without a giveaway, which is quite impressive for such a young player who bears more offensive responsibility this season.

The Dallas native’s rapid growth and mature game give him the feel of a future star. With that in mind, it’s possible Morey and the 76ers begin to lessen their ask for Simmons in terms of return assets, even if the Sixers exec previously said it could take “years” for the dust to clear.

Highlighting the differences between Simmons and Maxey

Philadelphia 76ers teammates Tyrese Maxey and Ben Simmons talk during a game in January 2021
Tyrese Maxey talks with Ben Simmons prior to a game against the Miami Heat on January 14, 2021, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

While Maxey is showing out so far this season, it’s important to remember that Simmons is an established star.

The 2016 No. 1 overall pick is a three-time All-Star. He made All-NBA Third Team during the 2019-20 campaign, and his court vision is a rarity for a player with his size. Maxey is still growing into his own as a playmaker. He came out of college as more of a scoring guard.

Trading Simmons would also rob the 76ers of a truly elite defender, which is no small detail. While Maxey offers more than Simmons in the way of scoring potential, he is not even close to his Klutch Sports counterpart on the defensive end. His -1.4 defensive box plus-minus value suggests as much.

At the end of the day, though, the 76ers have to be excited about Maxey’s performance in Simmons’ absence. He offers a different look in Philly’s backcourt and lessens the burden on Seth Curry to be a playmaker, thus allowing the younger Curry to fulfill his duties as an elite shooter. Maxey also gives the Sixers the shot creation they need to be a more dangerous team, even if defensive lapses are likely to present themselves.

Ultimately, Simmons’ days in the City of Brotherly Love might be numbered if Maxey continues to perform at a high level.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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