The good news is: Joel Embiid is staying put in Philadelphia.
The bad news is: It doesn’t end the drama that surrounds Ben Simmons.
When Joel Embiid signed a four-year supermax contract with the Philadelphia 76ers, many hoped that this could jumpstart the restructuring of the 76ers- a team that held the best record in the East last season but failed to reach the East Finals. Nope.
The Sixers’ problems are far from over.
The Saga Continues
Joel Embiid had an MVP-type of a season during the 2020-2021 campaign. He finished as a runner-up in the MVP race. While he sustained a torn cartilage in his right knee during the 2021 playoffs, he played through the injury. Unfortunately, the Sixers lost to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Meanwhile, Ben Simmons was everything opposite that of Joel Embiid. Simmons kept on angering fans by not living up to expectations. What is worse is that a video of Simmons making threes during the offseason surfaced on the internet. It made angry fans asked: “Where was that shooting precision during the playoffs?“
He shot 0% from the three-point line during the past playoffs. Who would want a player who bricks more shots than he makes?
And that’s one of the reasons why he is still in Philadelphia despite many trade rumors surrounding him. Nobody wanted to gamble on Ben Simmons. He’s just untradable for now.
Another reason why the Ben Simmons saga is taking so long in Philadelphia is his free throw shooting. And we’ve seen it in the Atlanta series where he missed 27 free throws in that series alone. Imagine you’re a team that traded for Ben Simmons. You would be worried that the opponents will employ a “Hack-a-Ben” strategy and make Simmons earn his points from the free-throw line. That’s a problem no team would want to inherit from the Sixers.
The Way Out(?)
Joel Embiid staying in Philadelphia is good for the team. Ben Simmons?
There are two ways in which the Sixers could benefit from Ben Simmons: Simmons develops a reliable jump shot, or the team finds a trading partner.
Now, Joel Embiid is 27 and still in his prime years. If the Sixers want to maximize Embiid’s prime years in hopes of winning an NBA championship, they need to find the right second-best scoring option next to Embiid. That title doesn’t belong to Ben Simmons anymore.
After all, even 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers was non-commital to answer whether or not Ben Simmons could be the best point guard of a title-contending team.
“I don’t know the answer to that question,” was Rivers’ response.
We can’t blame Rives for his response. And frankly, we can’t blame the Sixers fans for wanting to get rid of Simmons.
The problem is: Ben Simmons’ trade value is undeniably low. The fact that he is still a 76er after the 2021 NBA Draft is proof that no team would take the risk on Simmons.
If the Ben Simmons saga doesn’t conclude with a trade in the 2021 offseason, it may run until the next trade deadline. Or even past beyond that.