Much of the buzz about the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline centers on Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons. The Australian point forward hasn’t played this season and requested an exit from Philly. But despite the endless rumors and speculation, one group won’t be at all surprised if Simmons is still a Sixer on Feb. 11.
Rival executives believed president of basketball operations Daryl Morey when he said he would rather wait than make the wrong trade. The longtime Houston Rockets executive made the point months ago that the Simmons solution could take years, not days or weeks.
Ben Simmons remains the most prominent piece on the board
One potential suitor for Ben Simmons recently eliminated itself from the discussions. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Sacramento Kings balked at the asking price for the erstwhile Philadelphia 76ers star.
The Kings say they’re committed to building around guards De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Sacramento is 18–33 and last made the playoffs during George W. Bush’s second term in the White House, so sound management might not be the organization’s top feature.
With Joel Embiid playing at an MVP level, the 76ers climbed to third in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Miami Heat by 1.5 games. Embiid pumped the brakes on trade speculation when he said he thought the Sixers have what they need to make a deep playoff run.
Of course, they thought that last year. Then Simmons’ offensive meltdown helped the Atlanta Hawks eliminate the East’s top seed in the second round.
However, a report says most NBA executives don’t think Morey is bluffing about his position on a potential Simmons trade.
Morey still thinks he can talk Ben Simmons into playing
Few around the NBA believe Ben Simmons will play another game for the Philadelphia 76ers. But the person at the center of any potential trade of Simmons reportedly is not in that group.
According to Marc Stein on Substack, he can’t find an executive who believes Morey is bluffing regarding the three-time All-Star.
“If (Morey) finds a deal he likes for Ben Simmons in the next 13 days, he will surprise an overwhelming majority of his peers,” Stein wrote on Jan. 28. “I can’t find a team these days that believes Morey is bluffing about keeping Simmons past the deadline to A) first make what sounds to outsiders as a rather hopeless attempt to convince Simmons to rejoin the team for a playoff drive and B) more importantly retain Simmons as the centerpiece of offseason trade pitches.”
Stein named Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal, and young Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown as potential targets. Much buzzing circulated in recent days about a Morey reunion with Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden, as well.
It’s an expensive gambit for Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers
Fining Ben Simmons has been an on-again/off-again proposition for the Philadelphia 76ers. According to Spotrac, the two-time All-Defensive selection has been fined $360,305 a pop for 42 of the 49 games missed this season. The team also levied a $227,613.34 penalty for a one-game suspension on Oct. 19 after the player refused to enter a drill at practice.
In all, Simmons has lost $15.36 million and change. His salary this season is $33 million, and he has three years and $113.7 million remaining on his contract.
For Philadelphia, the actual cost comes from having 21% of the salary cap taken by a player who has produced nothing. It’s difficult enough to contend for a championship without trying to do it on less than 80% of your budget.
According to reports, Morey wants a king’s ransom for Simmons and hasn’t moved from that position since last summer.
Is it possible Ben Simmons can bring a top-30 player to the Philadelphia 76ers in a trade? Given the amount of baggage surrounding the player, that’s always seemed dubious. But Morey is sticking to his guns, even if it means $33 million in what’s essentially dead cap space.
Contract information courtesy of Spotrac.