The Philadelphia 76ers saw their NBA title hopes burst after another second-round playoff exit. The early postseason departure quickly shifts the focus toward Ben Simmons’ future. As uncertainty floats around, another factor involving Joel Embiid may determine Simmons‘ fate in Philadelphia.
76ers fall well short of NBA title contention
The 76ers marched into the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s top seed, but it didn’t translate into championship success.
Philadelphia fell to another second-round exit, marking the fourth straight year failing to reach the Eastern Conference Finals. The team’s shortcomings this time around shifted much of the blame and criticism onto Simmons.
It immediately created doubt concerning his long-term future in Philadelphia. With the offseason inching closer, another factor could determine his fate.
Joel Embiid may have $191 million worth of leverage to force the 76ers to trade Ben Simmons
As the saga around Simmons continues to twist and turn, another critical factor is emerging behind the scenes in Philadelphia.
Embiid’s impressive 2020-21 campaign earned him his third Second Team All-NBA selection, effectively making him eligible for the supermax contract extension worth a projected $191 million over four years. According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, the extension would begin in the 2023-24 campaign, starting the salary at $42.5 million to an astronomical $52.8 million in the 2026-27 campaign.
With all that in mind, ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst recently stated the 27-year-old’s upcoming lucrative deal would give him a say in the 76ers’ plans moving forward.
“Potentially a very large one,” Windhorst said. “Joel Embiid is under contract, but he’s eligible for the supermax contract extension this offseason. That’s five years for $200 million and approaching $30 million. But before that conversation can take place, you know that Daryl Morey is going to come to him to discuss the future of the organization.
“You do not sign your franchise player to a contract like that for having frank discussions. [The] same situation happened in Houston when Daryl Morey was running that team and James Harden signed the supermax contract as they examined opportunities to change the roster. So Joel Embiid will have the opportunity to weigh in on what he thinks needs to be done in the future. Whether Morey takes that into account is something that we will have to wait and see.”
The 76ers remain fully committed to Embiid as he’s demonstrated he’s a bonafide franchise player. Injuries are a lingering concern, but the All-Star is coming off a season where he played through it at an elite level.
The question now becomes whether Morey seriously considers Embiid’s input if he wants Simmons out of Philadelphia.
Philadelphia holds the final say
The 76ers are at a critical crossroad where Morey and the front office must operate in the franchise’s best interest.
Philadelphia has had more than enough time to assess the player Simmons has become through his first four seasons. He’s a phenomenal talent as a passer and defensive factor, but his offensive deficiencies are too glaring to look past anymore.
The front office plenty of reason to explore the trade market, while Windhorst recently voiced there would be plenty of interest from “a least a dozen” teams. However, the quality of the offers may be the only hurdle preventing the team from fully embracing the route.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski also added another wrinkle to the situation Thursday, stating that Philadelphia met with Simmons to work out a future together. Ultimately, the 76ers hold the final say to determine whether he’s a foundational piece of a championship-caliber roster.
Contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.