The Philadelphia 76ers may not be fully committed to trading point guard Ben Simmons after all.
After weeks of speculation over where Simmons could land next, ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported the franchise might be willing not to part ways with him just yet.
"The Sixers are open to bringing him back," Shelburne said on Tuesday's edition of The Jump. "The Sixers, in a lot of ways, I think they would prefer that."
The problem, as Shelburne noted, is that the feeling may not be mutual from Simmons' side. The veteran ESPN reporter said the Sixers have been trying to smooth out their relationship with the guard, but there hasn't been much traction.
Shelburne said Philadelphia would prefer not to trade a Defensive Player of the Year contender who's on the verge of reaching his prime at just 25 years old.
That would line up with comments made by Sixers head coach Doc Rivers at the end of the season, when Simmons' poor shooting became a focal point of the team's second-round loss to the Atlanta Hawks.
Rivers told reporters:
"I believe, without going into detail with what we're doing, I believe we know what the right work is, and the right type of work, and the right way to do it. You can do the work all the time, but if it's not done in the right way and the right type of work, you may not improve.
"After being here for a year, I really do believe we've identified what and how, and now we have to do the do part. We have to work to do it. It's not going to be an easy job. But it's definitely a job that Ben can do."
This latest chatter could be another Sixers attempt to drive up the price for Simmons as teams around the league work on addressing their needs through free agency.
Yet there is some truth to Rivers' comments. Simmons is a capable player in many regards. If he improves as a shooter—particularly at the free-throw line—he could cement himself as a long-term fixture in Philadelphia:
"We're not hiding that Ben has to become a better free-throw shooter and a more confident free-throw shooter. If that happens, I really believe a lot of other parts of his game follows. I said that, if you remember, before the season started. First thing I said was, 'We got to get him to the line 10 times a night.' And to want to get to the line 10 times a night. So we've got to put in work so he can get there. But if we can get him there, man, his game goes to a different level."