It's the story that just won't die ... until Daryl Morey pulls the trigger.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday what most of already believed to be true. Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons won't report to training camp next week and has said he has played his last game as a 76er. According to Wojnarowski, Simmons is aware of the substantial fines that could come his way and is prepared to take the hit to his wallet until the 76ers trade him.
Now, of course, the Warriors, along with a number of NBA teams, have been linked to Simmons throughout the offseason. Sources told NBC Sports Bay Area's Monte Poole that those within the Warriors' organization are split on the idea of adding Simmons.
We don't need to rehash the Warriors-Simmons conversation. You know the potential packages, the Draymond Green fit question, etc.
With the latest development, Simmons and the 76ers are careening toward an awkward stalemate, one that could provide the Warriors, or any other team with interest in Simmons, some leverage in trade negotiations.
Would the 76ers like to trade Simmons? Of course. But Morey and the 76ers believe their title window is now with Joel Embiid in his prime and want to deal Simmons for another All-Star player who can help elevate them past the second-round exits Simmons has played a key role in.
The issue is that Simmons' trade value cratered after his no-show in the Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, so interested teams don't view him on the perennial All-Star plane that Morey is shopping him on.
History is also working against Simmons and the 76ers here. Per FiveThirtyEight, since 1999 there have been 90 trades that have involved at least one All-Star caliber player, defined as a player who has made at least one of the past two All-Star Games. Of those 90 trades, only 10 would be categorized as star-for-star trades, the kind which Morey, who reportedly is interested in exchanging Simmons for Damian Lillard, is interested in.
Going further, three-fourths of those trades involved either a salary dump or the team trading the star for picks and role players. Neither of which interests a team wanting to take a step up the championship ladder and not down.
Of course, the best way for Simmons to up his trade value and help get the 76ers what they want is to show up to camp, not be a distraction and show that his game has improved. That appears to be out the window.
If Simmons is content to eat what could be a hefty fine -- he could be docked $227,613 for every practice and game that he misses if the 76ers suspend him under the CBA for failure to render services -- the 76ers will have a massive distraction on their hands. It will be the subject of every media availability and could eat at a team with an already fragile makeup.
Now, do I think Simmons is willing to eat all that money until Morey finds a trade that is suitable to him? I doubt it. The smart money is on him lacing up his Nikes the second the first massive fine hits the wallet. Money almost always wins out.
Rich Paul clients don't normally walk back once the nuclear button is hit, and Paul could very well be counseling Simmons that whatever team he is dealt to could rescind those fines, but that's a lot of money to wave goodbye to.
But if Simmons is willing to play hardball, he could force the 76ers into taking a lesser deal -- one in the picks and pieces category labeled by FiveThirtyEight. Simmons becoming a distraction and making the 76ers become desperate to find a trade partner would give any team with legitimate trade interest the upper hand in negotiations and could lead to a team like the Warriors landing a perennial All-Star with a massive flaw for lower than market value.
Morey isn't one to give in. He has an asking price for Simmons, and at the moment hasn't been willing to budge.
But the longer Simmons is willing to make things difficult for the 76ers by putting the focus on his absence and not the team's preparations, the more Morey will have to wrestle with the thought of selling low on a 25-year-old who has made the last three All-Star teams.
In ugly power struggles like these, the player and the team acquiring that talent almost always come out on top. If Morey eventually relents, the Warriors could take advantage of the situation.
But they likely won't be the only team to make an offer if Simmons succeeds in driving the price down.