There was a time not too long ago that Ben Simmons was seen as the future of the Philadelphia 76ers. As a young star with amazing talent and great potential, he was about as untouchable in trade talks as any player could get.
But after repeated failures in the playoffs, Simmons decided for himself that he was done. After promptly shutting down all contact with the team, his reps made it clear that he never intends on playing a game for the franchise again.
Fast forward to today, and Simmons is still a Sixer -- though, not by choice.
As a young, multiple-time All-Star, Philly GM Daryl Morey is determined to get back a star in a Simmons deal. Notably, he's got his eyes set on Portland's Damian Lillard.
Though nothing has progressed on that front, and no talks between the Blazers and Sixers are ongoing, Morey continues to hold out in hopes he might one day make it happen.
According to what a source told Sam Samick, the team is essentially waiting for a miracle.
But here’s the thing: Morey has made it clear, both then and now, that he has extremely high expectations for the eventual return on a Simmons deal. I get it, for sure, as we’re talking about a three-time All-Star and one-time All-NBA player.
But as you both know, and has been said and written about plenty of times, the Lillard-for-Simmons swap with Portland that is widely seen as Morey’s dream scenario just isn’t realistic. Not yet, anyway.
“You’re waiting on a prayer,” the source said of the Lillard scenario.
And in the absence of that, no one can seem to figure out what sort of trade gets this sticky situation resolved. Meanwhile, we’ve officially reached the point where Simmons is paying dearly for staying away — reportedly $360,000 per preseason game missed, with the money coming out of the $8.25 million that was withheld from him recently and placed in an escrow account from which fines will be deducted.
As Morey hopes and prays for Dame, the Blazers are preparing for their season like Lillard is there to stay.
Despite all the noise surrounding his future in Rip City, Dame has remained loyal to the franchise that drafted him. It doesn't mean, however, that things can't change.
At this point, it's just a waiting game, and nobody knows who will crack first.