Ben Simmons and his camp reportedly doubt the "authenticity" of Joel Embiid's messaging when it comes to bringing the disgruntled guard back into the fold.
“Joel is Daryl [Morey], and Daryl is Joel,” a source told Sam Amick of The Athletic.
The Philadelphia 76ers have long maintained they would welcome Simmons back with open arms if he chose to return this season. Simmons has sat out the entire 2021-22 campaign after requesting a trade during the offseason and has cited mental health concerns as the reason for his continued absence.
Simmons' agent, Rich Paul, met with Sixers brass last week and informed them the three-time All-Star's stance has not changed, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. The team is expected to continue shopping him ahead of the Feb. 10 trade deadline but has seemingly not come close to finding an offer to its liking.
Even if Simmons is still on the roster after the trade deadline, B/R's Jake Fischer reported there is "not a chance" Simmons will return to the Sixers this season.
The Sixers have fined Simmons $13.2 million for missed games and conduct detrimental to the team this season, per Spotrac. The team was briefly paying his salary while he was away because of a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that requires teams to pay players if their mental health renders them unable to compete, but the Sixers resumed fining Simmons in November amid a disagreement regarding his treatment.
Simmons was set to make $33 million in salary this season. He has three years and $113.7 million remaining on his contract, giving the Sixers leverage to force Simmons to sit out nearly the entire remainder of his prime if they choose.
The situation is essentially unprecedented, with a player choosing to forfeit $360,305 game checks in order to force himself out of a toxic situation.
The relationship between Embiid and Simmons has been one of regular speculation, with Embiid at first admonishing his teammate for skipping out on the team before softening his stance. It seems unlikely Simmons has forgotten the initial slight, which would only add fuel to his desire to exit Philadelphia.