76ers star Ben Simmons was once viewed as one of the best young players in basketball. While that title may still be somewhat true when it comes to Ben, his current situation has him looking more like a problem than anything else.
In the aftermath of a sour performance in the 2021 playoffs, Simmons cut his ties with the organization (including his teammates) and demanded a trade. What has followed has been a months-long campaign to force Daryl Morey's hand and ship him out of town.
Naturally, the task of finding a trade partner has been difficult, with many teams left wondering when Ben will be available to play, and what he might look like when he finally does.
Well, according to Sam Amick of The Athletic, Simmons' camp has provided a multiple-week timeline for Ben's return in the event he finally does get traded to a new team.
For starters, there’s the fact that Simmons hasn’t played in an NBA game since June 20, 2021 and, well, the lasting impression from that infamous Game 7 of the East semifinals against Atlanta wasn’t exactly a good one. Accurate or not, this years-long pattern of Simmons struggling with confidence issues on the floor is seen by some interested teams as a separate matter from the mental-health struggles that he has cited as his reason for staying off it. In terms of Simmons’ eventual availability with a new team, the message has been sent that he would be ready to play after a few weeks of intensified conditioning and court action.
But while making the front-office rounds to get a better understanding of the Simmons studies happening in real time here, I stumbled on this somewhat surprising sentiment: The length (and size) of his contract, which has been seen by the Sixers as a major leverage point and justification for the steep asking price because the threat of free agency delayed, is actually a concern to some.
Right now, Simmons claims that mental health issues are what is keeping him playing. Whether true or not, it's the story he has stuck with all season long, even as the team continues to fine him for missing time. It seems evident that he will not play a game for Philly again, no matter the cost.
For another team, however, he'd need a few weeks to return to action full-time.
At this point, it's entirely possible that Ben doesn't see the court at all this season. if Philly doesn't find a trade partner by the deadline, they'll have to wait for the summer to find a suitable deal.
Clearly, they are in no rush to get a deal done.