The Ben Simmons trade saga is a total mess after a summer during which it felt a new report or rumbling came to light every single day.
How did we get here? When did this all start? And how many twists and turns has this insane back-and-forth taken?
Let's run the entire thing back, starting in the early days of 2021.
January: The Sixers try to trade Simmons for James Harden
This thing really begin when the Sixers try to move Simmons at the 2021 NBA trade deadline to Houston for a disgruntled James Harden. The Sixers have Simmons on the table in trade discussions, and are reportedly extremely close to making a deal.
Ultimately Harden goes to Brooklyn instead and Simmons remains in Philly, but it's hard to not think a player could harbor some kind of hurt feelings after being floated in a trade.
June 20: The Game 7 meltdown
This moment really kicked off the hard feelings era.
Simmons has a brutal series against the Hawks in the second round, culminating in his decision to pass to Matisse Thybulle instead of taking a wide-open dunk over Trae Young in the fourth quarter. The Sixers go on to lose the decisive game, at home, and afterwards both Doc Rivers and Joel Embiid have interesting comments that were taken by many as somewhat pointed towards Simmons' disappointing play.
June 22: Daryl Morey dodges questions about Simmons' future
Two days after the Sixers' playoff exit, Daryl Morey holds a season-ending press conference where he's asked straight up if the Sixers would consider trading Simmons if the right deal popped up, and Morey does not give a straight "no" answer. Never a good sign!
June 24: Morey and Elton Brand meet Rich Paul in Chicago
The Sixers' top decision makers reportedly meets with Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, in Chicago around the time of the NBA draft combine. From ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski:
"Paul engaged the Sixers on whether it makes sense to work together to find a trade before the start of next season, but no request was made and the sides are expected to continue talking ahead of the July 29 NBA draft and August free agency."
This account was slightly disputed later by Morey, who said Simmons' camp did indeed request a trade in Chicago:
"They came to us and asked for a trade shortly after the season, his representatives, in Chicago. We were not looking to trade him."
In any case, it seems that just four days after the playoff exit both sides know some sort of split is likely in the cards.
June 30: Woj reports the Sixers want to trade Simmons before training camp
This is the first time we got some sort of time frame on a possible Simmons deal. Woj reports the front office wanted to move Simmons before training camp, which makes sense: get a clean break before you start a new year.
As we all know, this did not happen.
July 1: Sixers turn their attention to a Damian Lillard trade
If the Sixers are going to trade Simmons, this is the first inclination at what their hopeful return will be. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reports that Morey & Co. are hoping for a shot at Damian Lillard.
In the next few months, their reported asking price for Simmons will be higher than any team is willing to pay. The fact that their first target was Lillard should make that unsurprising.
July 20: Simmons returns to social media for first time since Game 7
One month after Game 7, Simmons returns to social media on his 25th birthday. In his Instagram post he vaguely acknowledges the criticism he received after the playoffs and his need to improve while also standing firm in his convictions:
"Reflecting back I've experienced some amazing highs and with that, some of the lowest lows. Life's a journey.. I'll always remain relentless and remain human through it all. Here's to my 25 year."
Aug. 9: Simmons posts videos of himself shooting threes in a gym
In an ill-fated decision, Simmons decides to post videos of himself shooting three-pointers in pick-up games from the summer, a time-honored tradition that always results in him refusing to shoot any kind of jump shot in actual games during the following NBA season.
He is rightly roasted for the videos.
Aug. 17: Timberwolves noted as being "persistent" in Simmons talks
One team seems to be particularly aggressive in Simmons talks over the summer, and that's the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Woj:
"Minnesota is one team that's been persistent with Philadelphia, but they've needed to have, really, third and even fourth teams in those kinds of deals to get back to Philly what it would want."
Aug. 31: Simmons tells Sixers brass he wants out in LA meeting
Keith Pompey of the Inquirer reports that Simmons met with Morey, Brand, and Rivers in Los Angeles and told them he wants out:
"In a meeting with the 76ers last week in Los Angeles, Simmons told team co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers that he no longer wants to remain a Sixer, according to multiple sources."
This feels like the ultimate no-turning-back moment of the summer.
Sept. 8: Lillard seems to end any trade buzz
If the Sixers are going to pull off a trade before training camp (which they ultimately won't), it won't be for Lillard, who by September seems locked in to at least one more year in Portland.
Sept. 21: 5 teams reportedly still in Simmons talks with Sixers
Minnesota is still pushing for Simmons, according to NBA insider Marc Stein, along with the Raptors, Cavaliers, Spurs, and Kings. These are the five teams that have been most consistently linked to the Simmons discussions all summer long, and as of mid-September they were all still interested.
Sept. 25: Simmons cancels Sixers teammate meeting in LA
Joel Embiid and other Sixers teammates were planning on flying to Los Angeles to meet with Simmons and try to bridge the gap in person:
"Simmons reportedly told them to not waste their time, because he's not coming back."
Sept. 29: Insiders report Simmons will sit "all year" if he has to
How long is Simmons, who at this point is extremely dug into his "never going back" stance, willing to hold out?
ESPN insider Ramona Shelburne suggests the 25-year-old could sit an entire season:
"Ben Simmons is willing to sit as long as it takes, too. When you talk to people close to Ben, and I say, 'Worse case scenario it takes all year, will he sit all year?' And the answer right now is, 'Yes.'"
It's hard to imagine a player giving up that much money and that many games during his athletic prime, but Simmons at this point seems steadfast in his refusal to return to Philly. Pretty wild.
Oct. 1: Sixers withhold Simmons' salary check
The Sixers flex their CBA-outlined financial muscles as Simmons refuses to show up for training camp or preseason games, and keep Simmons' money.
"The Sixers are expected to withhold payment to Ben Simmons worth 25% of his salary — payment valued at over $8 million.
"In the event that Simmons shows up to Philadelphia, as many with the team have said they expect to happen at some point, that money will eventually make its way to Simmons' bank account."
It's easy to talk big when the money is abstract. Now it's concrete - and it's not in Simmons' pocket.
Oct. 6: Simmons reportedly puts Center City condo on the market
Another sign that Simmons is serious about severing all ties with Philadelphia, the star reportedly puts his condo at the Ritz-Carlton in Center City up for sale.
Simmons has another residence in South Jersey, so if he comes back he still has a place to live (and a nice place at that), but this is certainly a real deal move.
Oct. 11: Sixers, Simmons working on potential return to Philly
SHARP LEFT TURN.
Simmons, once so entrenched that he was willing to skip an entire NBA season, is reportedly in talks with the Sixers about a return, according to Woj:
"He has become more open to the possibility of ending his time away from the team and reporting to Philadelphia, sources said."
Funny how things change once the money starts being withheld.
Oct. 11, continued: Simmons returns to Philly
Welp, that was fast!
The same day that reports surfaced of Simmons and his camp working towards a return to Philly... the guy returns to Philly.
And not only does he return to Philly, he arrives at the Wells Fargo Center - unannounced! - while the Sixers are playing a preseason game against the Nets to take a COVID-19 test:
"Rivers said it "sounds like" Simmons will be at practice once he clears COVID protocols, but he didn't have anything definitive to offer on that subject.
"Wojnarowski reported the Sixers were unaware Simmons was flying into Philadelphia on Monday."
This legitimately does not feel like a real story at this point.
So here we are. I've been tracking this thing all summer and feel like I might've lost some brain cells along the way, so if I've forgotten a key development please reach out and let me know.
Hopefully we get a resolution soon.
If not, keep it locked here to read about the latest development in the dumbest trade demand situation ever.