The best-case scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers would involve Ben Simmons reporting to the team and showing enough improvement that he can be the cornerstone in a trade for a superstar.
Simmons doesn't seem particularly willing to play ball.
"One of the messages that Ben has sent back towards Philly is that it’s not his job to fix his trade value. It’s not his job to correct his trade value or raise his trade value," ESPN's Brian Windhorst said Wednesday on The Jump.
The Sixers have spent the offseason shopping Simmons around the NBA in hopes of landing a better co-star for Joel Embiid but have come up short. Simmons' value is at its nadir after a miserable postseason saw the three-time All-Star lose all confidence on the offensive end, particularly at the free-throw line. His inability to grow as an offensive player, combined with the knowledge that he's very much available, has created a perfect storm that's depleted Simmons' trade value.
Simmons has seemingly decided to take control of his own future, telling co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers that he has no plans to report to camp, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer. While both sides went through the offseason on something of a mutual understanding regarding a trade, Simmons went on the offensive as training camp approaches later this month.
On one hand, Simmons has no real recourse. He's under contract for four more seasons and is set to make $147 million over that time frame; people don't just freely give up $147 million. If the Sixers can't find a trade they like and want Simmons to play, he'll play.
That said, we don't have to look far in the past to know how ugly things could get if the Sixers try playing out the string. James Harden offered the blueprint last season: show up and alienate everyone in the locker room until you get what you want. Harden took the nuclear path and landed exactly where he wanted, in Brooklyn playing for a title contender and sent there at a significant discount.
One could argue that teams should be jumping over one another to get a 25-year-old three-time All-Star if he can be had at a discount rate. But this thing is coming to a head soon, and it's possible Simmons' value will plunge even lower.