Daryl Morey Would Look Foolish Not to Trade Ben Simmons After Joel Embiid’s Latest Scathing Comments

At one point, it seemed as though Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid‘s sensational play and assertion that the organization had all the pieces to win a championship helped convince team president Daryl Morey to forego a Ben Simmons trade before the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline. But considering Embiid’s latest remarks, Morey has very little incentive to keep Simmons.

The Sixers center said Monday on a local radio show that he preferred not to involve himself in the team’s front-office decisions ahead of the deadline. Still, Embiid’s criticisms of Simmons and the freedoms he so clearly enjoys without the polarizing point guard on the floor almost demand that Morey make a move in the next two days.

A Ben Simmons trade remains very uncertain for the 76ers

The Simmons saga has been quite something for 76ers fans. What’s more, the end looks nowhere in sight, at least not right now.

Morey has been insistent in his asking price for the All-NBA guard. He appeared to find a glimmer of hope when reports surfaced that the Brooklyn Nets were open to discussing a trade for James Harden. But acquiring The Beard seems for Philly unlikely after Nets head coach Steve Nash adamantly stated the team would not trade Harden before the NBA trade deadline.

Once again, uncertainty abounds.

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype reported that Simmons is likely to remain with the 76ers if Morey cannot pull a rabbit from the hat and trade for Harden. Perhaps Morey and Co. still remain hopeful that Simmons could ultimately elect to suit up this season. That said, Philly’s past engagements with teams like the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks mean the 76ers could still make a move if Morey shows signs of budging on the asking price.

It’s probably wise for Morey to stop setting such an incredibly high bar, too, particularly considering what Joel Embiid had to say on Monday.

Joel Embiid criticized Ben Simmons and sent a subliminal message to Daryl Morey

Embiid speaks his mind 100% of the time. That said, he’s often tried to steer clear of discussing Ben Simmons, especially in-season. That proved unavoidable on Monday.

Embiid appeared on the Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic (NBC Sports Philadelphia) to discuss all things Sixers. Missanelli pressed him on Simmons, and JoJo responded with some pretty poignant comments.

The 27-year-old stated he preferred to stay out of front-office decisions. However, Embiid suggested that Simmons lacked self-awareness and deemed his reactions to criticisms unwarranted. But the most notable quote came when Embiid said this season is the “most fun” he has had with the 76ers.

Embiid’s usage rate is at a career-high 36.9%. Much of that has to do with the fact that Simmons is not on the floor. He has more liberty to play on the perimeter and handle the ball. He gets downhill against opposing centers, and his anticipation and passing have improved significantly. The 76ers star leads the NBA in scoring (29.3 points) and is rightfully garnering MVP buzz.

JoJo openly stating his level of joy this season should spur Morey into action. The Eastern Conference is wide open, and the Sixers have a real shot at coming out of the East. They might have a chance to do so without trading Simmons, but getting assets ahead of the NBA trade deadline would bolster their odds significantly.

How will Morey proceed?

L-R: Philadelphia 76ers president Daryl Morey on the sidelines of an NBA game and Sixers teammates Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid talk during a game in February 2021
Daryl Morey (L), Ben Simmons (R, L), and Joel Embiid (R, R) | Left to Right: Michael Reaves/Getty Images and Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Daryl Morey has routinely preached patience with respect to a Ben Simmons trade. Perhaps it’s time for a little more urgency.

Embiid bared all on Monday. It’s abundantly apparent that he enjoys the game far more without Simmons on the floor. So even if Philly has a semblance of hope that Simmons could return, it might perturb Embiid’s comfort level and the chemistry that already exists with the current group.

Additionally, let’s consider the Harden situation. First of all, would Morey not have the capability to flip any assets acquired in a possible Simmons trade for Harden this summer in a possible sign-and-trade? Sure, there’s a lot of discussion about a straight swap, but might the Nets actually prefer multiple young assets?

Moreover, if the 76ers were to acquire Harden, is that the right move for the franchise? Harden remains a top player in the NBA. But he’s a ball-dominant force who pounds the rock and currently has the second-lowest true shooting percentage of his career. Not to mention, he’s been hampered by consistent hamstring issues.

Do the 76ers want that kind of player next to Embiid? He said Monday he’d love the chance to play with an elite talent like Harden, but that would probably require giving up the on-ball liberties he’s enjoyed this season.

It’s time for Morey to draw a line in the sand and make a decision before the NBA trade deadline. If he’s smart and has Embiid’s best interest in mind, then that means trading Ben Simmons now and letting the chips fall where they may this summer.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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