The Ben Simmons saga in Philadelphia took another turn Thursday when Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey doubled down in a radio interview on his stance regarding a potential decision to move the disgruntled star guard.
Morey has long expressed a desire for Philadelphia to receive a “difference maker” in return from any team making a deal to acquire Simmons. Morey reiterated that in Thursday’s interview with 97.5 The Fanatic, a local radio station in Philadelphia, after saying at the start of training camp that he wouldn’t be forced into moving Simmons just to appease him.
“Ben Simmons is a difference maker,” More said. “I know right now there are people who are down on Ben Simmons, and there are good reasons for that, I think from multiple respects of both on the floor and off. But the reality is this guy is a multi-time All-Star.”
Morey went on to say that trading Simmons for role players does not make sense for the organization.
“So, people should buckle in. This is going to go a long time because my only job is to help us get the best chance to win the title. Ben Simmons is a difference maker. So, if we can get him back, he will help us win the title. If we can trade Ben Simmons for a difference maker, we will do it. I think that’s best for everyone in this situation.”
Simmons reportedly showed up at the team’s practice facility on Thursday for an individual workout that he didn’t take part in due to discomfort in his back. Simmons reportedly received treatment from the Sixers’ medical staff, which also cleared him to work out.
Sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Simmons isn’t currently mentally ready to return to on-court action with the team and he’ll miss the team’s home opener Friday against the Brooklyn Nets. Charania also reported that Simmons is not expected to play for an undetermined period.
“I don’t want to get into details,” Morey said when asked about the reports. “We’re actually expecting him to be at shootaround tomorrow. He did come in today. It was a day for individual workouts for the folks who are lower minutes or no minutes. We’re taking this day by day. Bottom line is Ben Simmons is a difference maker. Our hope is to reintegrate him into the team.”
Simmons reportedly refused to participate fully at practice on Tuesday, leading to Rivers dismissing him from practice, and the team subsequently suspending the disgruntled guard one game for conduct detrimental heading into Philadelphia’s 117-97 win at New Orleans in the season opener.
Simmons hasn’t addressed the media since reportedly requesting a trade in the offseason.
Morey, meanwhile, made it clear the Sixers are prepared to deal with future Simmons antics, as the guard works to facilitate a move out of Philadelphia.
“It’s actually sort of, at times, entertaining to read Twitter and how tough this is because for our players and coaches (because) this is not tough. They come in. They’re professional. For them, they’re united. They’re in a great place … We feel good about our chance right now as the team stands. We’d feel better with Ben Simmons as part of the team.”
A three-time NBA All-Star, Simmons has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists over the last four seasons with the Sixers, which drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016 out of Louisiana State University.
The turmoil engulfing Simmons and the Sixers currently can be traced back to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks. Late in that game, Simmons passed on what could have been a wide-open dunk under the basket that would have tied the game.
After the game, Simmons shouldered the blame for the 76ers’ series loss to the Hawks, while Rivers and franchise centerpiece Embiid uttered remarks that pointed out the guard’s contribution in Game 7 to Philadelphia’s early postseason exit.
After Simmons’ suspension on Tuesday, Embiid responded to a question regarding Simmons with, “at this point, I don’t care about that man. He does whatever he wants.”
Morey, meanwhile, remains bullish on keeping Simmons with the 76ers if the team can’t receive what it views as fair value in a trade for the disgruntled guard.
“You’re going to think I’m kidding, and I’m not,” Morey said. “This could be four years. We are in the prime of Joel’s career. We have to get back either Ben Simmons playing well for us – that will help us win the championship – or we have to get back a difference maker for Ben Simmons.”
Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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