Ben Simmons is reportedly not bluffing in his threat to sit out training camp in an effort to force a trade from the Philadelphia 76ers.
Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic said "everyone" in the NBA believes the Sixers "cannot afford to hold onto" Simmons because his threats to hold out are "very real."
Simmons informed co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers of his plan to hold out last month, per Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Sixers are far from unwilling to trade Simmons; they've spent all offseason shopping the three-time All-Star and offered him James Harden talks last season. That said, Morey has set a high price for Simmons, wanting a better-fitting co-star for Joel Embiid or a package befitting a 25-year-old superstar.
The problem is Simmons' trade value has never been lower. He's coming off a miserable postseason that saw him shoot 34.2 percent from the free-throw line, losing confidence to the point he was passing up wide-open dunk attempts. Joel Embiid and Rivers both helped fan the flames of criticism by laying some of the blame for the Sixers' second-round exit at Simmons' feet.
The Sixers went to work almost immediately after their elimination in attempting to move on but found seemingly no takers. Teams have rightly surmised that the relationship between Simmons and the Sixers is broken beyond repair, leaving Morey with an unenviable decision between trading Simmons at his lowest value or bringing him back and risking a public-relations fiasco.
If the trade offers for Simmons are truly that bad, the latter scenario may have to play out. The Sixers can't afford to trade Simmons without getting true instant-impact talent in return. They're helplessly capped out well into the future and have championship aspirations. Relationships can be mended; losing a 25-year-old star for low return value would have dire consequences.