Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons is holding fast to his trade request from the franchise that drafted him and still plans not to attend training camp next week, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski confirmed on Tuesday.
The Philadelphia Inquirer's Keith Pompey first reported late last month that Simmons and his representation requested a trade in a meeting with the 76ers' brass, making clear his intention not to attend training camp.
According to Wojnarowski, the two sides have not spoken since that meeting.
Simmons can be fined $227,613 each day he does not participate in camp. He is aware of the potential fines if he does not report and is willing to take that risk never to play for the Sixers again, Wojnarowski reported. Simmons is in the second season of the five-year, $177 million maximum contract he signed in July 2019.
Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has scoured the NBA for fair trade value and so far found nothing close. The Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly unwilling to part with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards for Simmons. The Sacramento Kings have reportedly kept De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton off the table. The Golden State Warriors reportedly will not deal James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga for Simmons. Philadelphia reportedly turned down a deal centered around Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon. Collin Sexton would reportedly be the centerpiece of the Cleveland Cavaliers' interest.
Morey understandably wants more. Simmons is a 25-year-old three-time All-Star who has averaged a 16-8-8 for his four-year career and finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. The 76ers have won 60% of their games since the 6-foot-11 point guard first saw the floor for the 2017-18 season.
Only, last we saw Simmons, he passed up a wide-open potential game-tying dunk in favor of passing to a tightly covered Matisse Thybulle with minutes left in a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks during the Eastern Conference semifinals. It was indicative of Simmons' career-long aversion to shooting, a weakness in his game that has prevented the former No. 1 overall pick from reaching his potential as a franchise superstar.
Following that defeat, Sixers co-star Joel Embiid pointed to that moment as the turning point in last season's pursuit of a championship, and coach Doc Rivers conceded he did not know whether Simmons could be the point guard for a title team. Multiple reports suggested that both comments played a role in Simmons' desire to be traded. Philadelphia fans have not made the flaws in his game any easier to hide.
Simmons would reportedly prefer to play for one of "three California teams," Pompey reported. The Kings are the fourth California team presumed not to be on his list. Except, the Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers have few assets that would interest Morey, which makes satisfying everyone impossible.
The Sixers are still working to convince Simmons to report for training camp, according to Marc Stein. Tuesday's reaffirmation of his trade request is a clear attempt to force Philadelphia's hand in hastening a deal, only Morey does not have to grant his star player's wishes. The Sixers will still have to answer for his absence, and the team is scheduled to host its annual media day on Monday. There is surely more to come.
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