NBPA's Michele Roberts Calls Out 76ers' Daryl Morey over Ben Simmons Comments

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 23, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons plays during Game 7 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts issued a statement Saturday after comments by Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey about his willingness to continue the team's standoff with Ben Simmons for the duration of his contract.

Morey discussed the situation Thursday on 97.5 The Fanatic (via Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia):

"We have to get back either Ben Simmons playing well for us, who helps us win the championship, or we have to get back a difference maker for Ben Simmons—or this could be four years from now and we're still like, hey, we took the best shot at it we could.
"So this could be four years. This is not a day-to-day thing. This is every day we're going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here, or we're trading him for a difference maker. There's no other outcome that doesn't materially hurt our chance to win the championship in Joel Embiid's prime."

Roberts provided a statement to Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill:

"Really? Is it so hard to believe that Ben's not mentally at a place to compete? Professional athletes—like the rest of us—have difficult periods in our lives that require time and energy to heal. We have and will continue to provide Ben with the support and resources he needs to work through this. Threatening the prospect of 'another four years' serves no one's interests. Like Tobias [Harris], I say let's respect Ben's space and embrace him while allowing him the time to move forward.
"So, take a breath and count to 10: We are all too good to continue to play this perpetual game of chicken."

Simmons stayed away from the franchise for a majority of training camp while hoping the front office, led by Morey and general manager Elton Brand, would find a trade.

The three-time All-Star returned shortly before the start of the regular season when it became clear a deal wouldn't be made, but he was suspended one game after being kicked out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers on Tuesday. On Friday, he informed the team he planned to receive a medical evaluation after telling the team he wasn't mentally ready to play, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Though a trade is seemingly the best outcome for all sides, there's been nothing throughout the situation to suggest one was close.

Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Oct. 2 the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs were in contact with the Sixers.

Pompey also wrote the 76ers "overvalue" Simmons, a strong two-way contributor who lacks the shooting ability to reach the NBA's upper echelon, and reported the front office was "asking for too much" in trades while hoping another star, such as the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard or Washington Wizards' Bradley Beal, would become available.

Morey indicated Philadelphia doesn't plan to reduce its asking price.

Meanwhile, the 76ers showed support for Simmons before and after their 114-109 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

"Things do change," Rivers told reporters. "That still doesn't mean that, you know, it's going to work out perfect. Or it could. I've always believed that. I've never wavered from that. I've said that a hundred times, and I still stick with it."

Harris added: "I think it's obviously a good start. But as I said, at this time we have to respect his privacy, his space, and we've got to be there for him, with what he's going through and this process."

It hasn't been confirmed whether Simmons will be involved with the Sixers during his medical evaluation or if he'll take time away from the team.

Philadelphia is scheduled to visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night.