The Philadelphia 76ers enter the offseason at a crossroads. Do they improve the roster around MVP-finalist Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and hope the latter can flourish after a working on his shot during the summer, or do they trade the point guard and bring in a new talent to pair with Embiid. After the Sixers' second-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks, reports surfaced that Philadelphia was committed to making the Embiid-Simmons duo work. But as time has passed and with free agency and the NBA Draft just a few weeks away, it appears as though that thinking has changed within the Sixers organization.
Here's more from Shams Charania of The Athletic:
"The 76ers have opened up trade conversations surrounding Simmons and have engaged with teams, sources told The Athletic. Those sources also say that teams that have engaged with the 76ers about Simmons have been met with a high price threshold for the three-time All-Star."
The Sixers are reportedly looking to net an All-Star caliber player in return if they were to trade Simmons, but given his disappointing performance in the postseason the return may not be as high as Philadelphia could've gotten a year ago. However, the interest in Simmons still remains high, Charania reports, and that makes sense given his resume, which includes being an All-NBA player in 2020, a two-time All-Defensive first-team player and a Rookie of the Year winner. Simmons is also just 24 years old and, with four years remaining on his contract, so any team that trades for him would have the security of knowing he would be around until at least 2025 when he's set to become an unrestricted free agent.
While Simmons being on the trading block is head-turning news, it's not the first time he's been in this position with the Sixers. When the Houston Rockets were looking to trade James Harden earlier this season, the Sixers were reportedly in the running to nab the former league MVP. Simmons was the centerpiece of that deal, but Philadelphia was unwilling to include rookie Tyrese Maxey and the deal fell through.
Since that time, the Sixers appeared to be figuring things out with the Simmons-Embiid duo, as Philadelphia finished the regular season with the best record in the East and the No. 1 seed heading into the postseason. However, those doubts of Simmons being unable to coexist with Embiid reared its ugly head again in the second round of the playoffs against the Hawks where Simmons' flaws were magnified with each missed free throw attempt and tepidness to take any shot outside of the paint. It led to pretty pointed public criticism from Embiid and head coach Doc Rivers after the Sixers were bounced from the postseason.
While it's unclear which teams are talking to the Sixers about a potential trade for the All-Star point guard, it's clear that Simmons' future in Philadelphia is as murky as its ever been ahead of the 2021-22 season.