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Stephen A.: Insider Says 76ers' Ben Simmons 'Doesn't Work,' Is 'Constantly Babied'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJune 22, 2021

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

A source told ESPN's Stephen A. Smith that Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons "doesn't work" and "doesn't listen."

Smith explained on Tuesday's episode of First Take the information came from someone "very, very close to the situation in Philadelphia," who also noted Simmons is surrounded by family members and gets "constantly babied."

Simmons has become the focus of intense criticism since the Sixers were eliminated from the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday.

The three-time All-Star scored just 19 points and attempted only 14 shots from the field across the final three contests of the seven-game series. He dished out 13 assists in Game 7, but scored just five points and passed up a seemingly wide-open dunk late in the contest with the result still hanging in the balance.

"I'll be honest: I thought the turning point was when we had an open shot, and we made one free throw and we missed the other, and they came down and scored," teammate Joel Embiid told reporters about that sequence after the season-ending loss.

Philly head coach Doc Rivers was asked postgame whether he believed Simmons could be the point guard on a championship-level team and he sidestepped the question.

"I don't know the answer to that right now," Rivers said.

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The veteran coach has since explained the Sixers have a plan to work on the 6'11'' playmaker's longtime shooting woes, saying they've "identified" what needs to change.

Questions will linger about whether the 24-year-old Australia native will open next season with the 76ers, though. The franchise hasn't lived up to expectations with Embiid and Simmons as the core, so the calls to shake things up with a blockbuster trade are beginning to grow louder.

Simmons is highly productive in many areas, averaging 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals while shooting 55.7 percent from the field during the 2020-21 regular season, but his inability to knock down outside shots is a problem for a point guard in the modern NBA.

The more anonymous information leaks like the one provided by Smith, who has deep connections in the city after over a decade writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the less likely it becomes the two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection stays with the franchise.

There's a craving for change after the latest playoff disappointment, and much of that frustration has been directed toward Simmons after his late-series struggles against the Hawks.

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