Sixers Begin Taking Action Against Ben Simmons as Trade Talks Stall
Ben Simmons and the Sixers could break up officially any day now, but the breakup doesn't seem to be coming any closer.
Back in June, following a rough second-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Simmons' reps held a meeting with Philly's front office in Chicago during NBA Combine week.
That's when Simmons' camp requested a trade, according to Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey. While the Sixers were open to moving the young guard, his drop in value plus a dried-up market for superstars equaled a not-so-golden opportunity to trade a 25-year-old three-time All-Star at the moment.
That led the Sixers to hold onto Simmons throughout the offseason. And eventually, Morey, Doc Rivers, Josh Harris, and Elton Brand decided to fly out to Los Angeles to meet with Simmons in an attempt to bring him back.
Unfortunately, the meeting failed. Not only did Simmons make it clear he wanted to be traded, but he told the Sixers he'll hold out until it gets done. Nearly two months later, Simmons stayed true to his word as he's missed media day and three practices.
Simmons will rack up fines, and he's well aware of that. But on Friday, the star guard also found out that he was going to have 25-percent of his salary for the season withheld, according to Jake Fischer of Bleacher Report.
"October 1 marks the date that the second 25 percent of Simmons' salary for the 2021-22 season—roughly $8.25 million—is due to the All-Star guard, but the Philadelphia 76ers do not intend to pay Simmons on Friday, league sources told Bleacher Report."
So, what's next for Simmons? Does the holdout continue, or does the 25-year-old guard swallow his pride and return to play for the team he signed a long-term deal with back in 2019? According to Fischer, a return to the market isn't out of the question, but playing for the 76ers still might not be an option.
"There have been growing whispers this week among NBA sources with knowledge of the situation that Simmons could respond by actually reporting to Philadelphia in the coming days, but maintaining that he is injured and unable to compete. Simmons has had noted knee and back injuries in the previous two seasons."
Simmons' teammates haven't given up on him just yet. During the first week of training camp, many players, including Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris, Shake Milton, and more, have made it known they would welcome Simmons back with open arms.
But as the staredown drags out, things could begin to get ugly. While key players on the team mentioned they'd like Simmons back in the mix, they have grown disappointed in the situation as a whole. And if Simmons returns to Philadelphia just to stand on the sidelines and collect a check, that could create some more awkward tension for Philadelphia as the season inches closer.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.