The Philadelphia 76ers have said they are committed to Ben Simmons and plan to work with him this offseason, but that will be difficult if the former top-overall pick is completely ignoring the team. A report this week claimed Simmons has been doing just that, but the Sixers insist he has not.
During a podcast interview with Steve Lipman and Dan Volpone of Liberty Ballers, Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer shared some interesting information about the relationship between Simmons and the 76ers. Fischer said the team hasn’t been able to get in touch with Simmons this offseason and that the two sides have never really been on the same page.
“They haven’t been able to really even get in touch with Ben since the season ended,” Fischer said. “Like, there was an intent to have a workout plan or whatever — like in any offseason. That’s always kind of been the case, that the Sixers haven’t been able to align with a development plan … It just doesn’t sound like there’s ever been movement to come together on the same page to do that, and it hasn’t really worked this summer either.”
The 76ers say the report is unfounded. Multiple team sources firmly denied that Simmons has gone AWOL when reached by Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.
“We talked to Ben on his birthday a couple of days ago, we’ve been in touch with him throughout the summer,” one source told Neubeck. “We’re going to send some training personnel out to see him this summer, too … we have good dialogue with Ben, his team, and his family.”
It’s hard to know who is telling the truth. Obviously, the 76ers want to cover up any dysfunction that might exist. They need rival teams to think their relationship with Simmons is just fine and that they are content to keep him, especially if their goal is to trade him and get maximum return. That’s how leverage works.
Simmons was an offensive liability in the playoffs, but he’s a tremendous defender and still very young. If the Sixers can’t get a decent return, they will likely keep him for at least another season.