Ben Simmons Rumors: Rich Paul Met with 76ers Brass to Discuss Trade, Playing Status

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 12, 2022

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 20: Ben Simmons #25 of the Philadelphia 76ers plays defense against Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks during Round 2, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Playoffs on June 20, 2021 at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Ben Simmons isn't any closer to playing for the Philadelphia 76ers. 

According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons' agent Rich Paul met with the team's president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand on Wednesday to "discuss" the "stalemate" between the sides.

Per Wojnarowski nothing has changed: "Simmons no closer to playing this season—and Sixers determined to bring back a significant player in trade."

Woj added that the Sixers "continue to want Simmons to return to the floor, but there's no movement on that front—nor traction on a trade now."

When asked about Simmons' status on Wednesday, Sixers coach Doc Rivers wasn't able to provide much of an update.

"I don't know," Rivers said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia's Noah Levick. "I don't think so, but I don’t even know the answer. He does come to the [practice] facility, but I don't know what that means right now. Hopefully we'll have an answer sooner or later."

You can practically hear the collective sigh from the city of Philadelphia as this saga drags on. 

Dan Favale @danfavale

new information on the ben simmons situation, updated daily <a href="https://t.co/aRHKDEGmym">pic.twitter.com/aRHKDEGmym</a>

Simmons, who reportedly requested a trade over the summer, has not played this season, citing mental health issues. Without him, the Sixers have managed to go 23-16, largely due to the Herculean efforts of superstar center Joel Embiid (27 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.4 BPG, 1.1 SPG), who yet again looks like an MVP candidate. 

But if Simmons remains on the sidelines or isn't traded, Philly's ceiling is pretty clearly capped, with a number of talented teams in the Eastern Conference—including the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks—ahead of them. 

The question is what Philly might be able to get in return for Simmons, a 6'10" power forward who has been miscast as a point guard because of his excellent passing ability. Simmons is dominant in transition thanks to his athleticism and vision, and he's one of the most versatile lockdown defenders on the perimeter in the NBA. 

But he also routinely refuses to take even mid-range jumpers, let alone from beyond the perimeter, making him an anomaly in a modern NBA landscape that prioritizes spacing and three-point shooting. That was magnified in the team's Eastern Conference Semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, where Simmons attempted only three fourth-quarter shots during the entire seven-game series. 

Simmons' reluctance to shoot, particularly in that series, called into question whether he was dealing with confidence issues. It also has always made him an awkward fit next to Embiid, who operates at his best in the paint and is one of the best post scorers in the NBA.

The big man has done his part to expand his game, regularly taking three pointers and making them at a respectable clip (38.5 percent this season). 

It's fair to question if Simmons has made the same efforts to expand his game to better fit with Embiid. In his four-year career, Simmons has attempted only 34 three-pointers. He's made five.  

It continues to feel unlikely that the duo will ever play together again, barring the Sixers not finding a trade package to their liking ahead of the Feb. 10 deadline. In that case, Simmons may choose to return to the court rather than sitting out a full season, while the Sixers will likely check back in on superstars like Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal this offseason to see if either are ready for a change of scenery. 

Either way, one thing is certain: people in Philadelphia—and most basketball fans in general—are ready for this stand-off to come to an end.