My first real memory of Ben Simmons was shortly after Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors in 2016. (If I’m remembering correctly) Simmons answered a question about Durant. His seemed very poised. He simply stated he played for Philadelphia. Meaning he wasn’t concerned with other teams.
This is far and away not the Ben Simmons of today’s media cycle. This was a very mature, prepared response from someone who was clearly trained on how to act in the NBA. It Impressed me. I knew absolutely nothing about him at the time. Go back and look at his interviews from that summer, he spoke eloquently, he was a team player. Watching them, I never expected his career to take this kind of turn.
It’s not that his interviews have turned poor, but his actions have.
Fast forward to today and Simmons is one of the hottest topics in basketball. He made a trade request that was not granted and refused to report for training camp. What followed was a game of chicken between Daryl Morey and Simmons’s agent Rich Paul. Simmons was determined to never go back to Philadelphia. That is, until he learned how much money he was losing.
Now there is word of tension building between him and Paul. Simmons was possibly misinformed about his salary. Evidently, Simmons thought he would receive his first $8 million payment once he was traded. Upon discovery that this was not the case, he quickly reported to Philadelphia.
When Will a Deal Happen
Currently, reports are circling about how the first actual practice went. Now, the trade might happen sooner than later. Holding out was actually one of the worst things Simmons could have done. The whole time all he needed to do was show up. Show up, but make it obvious his value was dropping. This Is how past stars have done it. Jimmy Butler and James Harden are the best examples.
Butler came to practice and embarrassed his teammates in Minnesota. Harden showed up out of shape and embarrassed himself. They were more destructive around the team than away from it.
Simmons now follows their lead. The latest news is that he practiced with his phone in his pocket and didn’t join the team huddle — destructive behavior. If this keeps up the biggest pressure won’t come from Simmons, it’ll be his teammates. No one will want to be around him. All it will take is Joel Embiid complaining to management; the trade will happen the next day.
I spoke with a Sixers fan about the report of the first practice with Simmons and he said it really made him miss Jimmy Butler. Butler is notorious for calling out weak behavior from his teammates. I actually disagreed. I don’t think Butler would have called him out at all. He probably would have put two phones in his pocket and simply out played him in the scrimmage.
Ben Simmons made the right decision reporting to Philly. Him holding out was good for no one and showed that player empowerment has its limits. The leverage tips back and forth. Daryl Morey and the Sixers had the advantage here. This will set precedent. Players expecting a trade with years left on their contract will need to cooperate, if only just a little bit more.
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