Every day seems to bring a new twist in the never-ending Ben Simmons saga. In the past week alone, Simmons has been suspended for opening night for refusing to participate in a defensive drill and reportedly told the Philadelphia 76ers that he is not mentally ready to take the floor for them yet. On Thursday, top basketball executive Daryl Morey revealed in a radio interview that this drama could drag out for the duration of Simmons' four-year contract.
Fortunately for Simmons, Marc Stein is reporting a much closer date to watch on the trade front. League sources told Stein that Morey is expected to wait until Dec. 15 "before he pursues a deal with greater intent." Why Dec. 15? Because a significant percentage of NBA players that are not currently eligible to be traded right now will become tradable at that point.
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When a free agent signs a new contract in the offseason, he is eligible to be dealt on either Dec. 15 or three months after signing, whichever comes later. Draft picks only need to wait one month after signing and are not bound by the Dec. 15 date, and there are a few exceptions that become trade-eligible on Jan. 15 instead, but for the most part, free agents become tradable in the middle of December.
That is enormously important to Philadelphia for a few reasons. Obviously, they might be interested in players that signed new contracts last offseason, but even if they aren't, Simmons is making $33 million this season. Matching salary on a contract of that size would be difficult for many teams and waiting until Dec. 15 would allow them to use 2021 free-agent signings in the deal for cap purposes.
It should be noted that not every player in the NBA is eligible to be dealt after those deadlines. When a player signs a contract extension with either raises larger than five percent annually or longer than three seasons, that player cannot be traded for six months. This excludes a number of veterans who re-signed with their teams recently including Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon.
But right now, Philadelphia's options are severely limited. Morey wants to trade Simmons for a player he perceives as a difference-maker. Such a player is not available on the trade market right now. He might be in December, and if he is, having all of those extra players eligible to be dealt would only help make a deal easier.