Unresolved and untenable, Ben Simmons situation puts 76ers in bind
NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman is grading every team’s offseason based on where the team stands now relative to its position entering the offseason. A ‘C’ means a team is in similar standing, with notches up or down from there.
The 76ers spent the summer shopping Ben Simmons for only the most monstrous of returns. When that failed, the 76ers tried to convince everyone how badly they wanted to keep him and that a trade was his request, not theirs. To prove how much they wanted him on the team, the 76ers fined him heavily for holding out.
The 76ers got their way. Simmons reported.
And is already causing mayhem.
Maybe the long game will work out for Philadelphia. The 76ers could trade Simmons at a more advantageous time. Heck, it’s not impossible he’ll eventually withdraw his trade request, improve his game and actually boost Philadelphia on the court. Simmons is a highly productive player, and the 76ers still have the asset – wherever that leads.
But Philadelphia could be a championship contender right now. The 76ers’ had the East’s best record last season. Joel Embiid is a beast. The supporting cast is solid. Even if not the desired massive return, Simmons could be traded for a helpful contributor or two.
Instead, the 76ers are falling into chaos. Distanced from the day-to-day drama, team president Daryl Morey can be patient – but also appears in danger of permitting an organizational rot to infect those who do have to deal directly with Simmons. Neither Embiid nor Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers appeared happy today.
Repeating the important caveat that this could still end positively, the 76ers really seem to have dug themselves into a hole with Simmons.
Otherwise, they really handled their business this offseason.
Philadelphia signed Joel Embiid to a super-max contract extension. He’s the franchise player – maybe soon the best player in the NBA. Though many super-max extensions age poorly, at least this one was just four (rather than five) years.
The 76ers re-signed starting wing Danny Green ($10 million salary followed by an unguaranteed season). He fits so well on a contending team.
Filling the bench, Philadelphia also re-signed Furkan Korkmaz (three years, $15 million) and added Georges Niang (two years, $6,765,000) an Andre Drummond (one year, minimum). That’s a nice blend of shooting, versatility and size to accompany Tyrese Maxey’s/Shake Milton’s playmaking and Matisse Thybulle’s defense. (One of Maxey or Milton will likely start for Simmons.)
The 76ers drafted Jaden Springer – No. 22 on my board – No. 28, Filip Petrusev No. 50 and Charles Bassey No. 53. Even after Bassey threatened to accept his required tender, Philadelphia convinced him to sign a three-year minimum contract with $1 million guaranteed. Not every dispute between the front office and a player must lead to fireworks.
But the Simmons standoff has certainly exploded.
It’s too soon to say whether Morey overplayed his hand. Unmade trades are usually impossible to evaluate from afar. Who knows exactly what the 76ers could have gotten for Simmons over the summer, let alone what they’ll eventually get? But, especially as they waste time in limbo as the season begins, it’s getting harder to believe they’ll come out ahead.
Offseason grade: D+