The latest domino in the NBA offseason has dropped.
The relationship between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers seemed tenuous at best over the past few months after the Sixers lost in embarrassing fashion in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Simmons was mostly invisible down the stretch in that series, punctuated by failing to attempt a dunk in the fourth quarter of Game 7, and his teammates and coaches didn’t exactly give their point guard a ringing endorsement in their postgame press conferences.
Since then, there have been rumors galore of a separation, and Simmons had gone radio silent with the only team he’s played for in his NBA career.
Now, the three-time All-Star reportedly has had enough of Philadelphia and will not join the team for training camp. A Western Conference executive told Sixers beat writer Keith Pompey, “Ben Simmons says he refuses to play for the Sixers. He wants to go to three California teams.”
For those of you doing the math at home, yes, there are four California teams, and no, there was no further clarification as to which squads Simmons is interested in. Presumably, Simmons is interested in the Lakers, Warriors, and Clippers. The fifth-year guard has only ever known winning situations in his professional career, and all three teams present a chance to contend right away.
Then again, maybe Simmons doesn’t really care about winning a title. He picked a collegiate program that had no chance of contending (LSU) in his lone NCAA season, and he’s never chased international success, repeatedly turning down the Australian national team despite that group’s continued competitiveness in international competitions. Maybe Simmons just wants to play his way and avoid the pressure, which would make Sacramento a natural fit for the 25-year-old.
Even if Simmons is interested in the Clippers (I’d peg them as the third-most preferred team on his list), it’s hard to find a way for him to get here. Daryl Morey is reportedly demanding quite the haul for his second-best player, including an All-Star caliber player and other assets. The Clippers only have two All-Stars, and neither of them is on the trading block. They have an increasing pool of young assets to throw into deals, but all of those players are complementary pieces to the big fish that the Clippers don’t have; plus, the Sixers are probably less interested in Ivica Zubac than most teams since they have Joel Embiid.
There’s a good chance that Simmons doesn’t start the season in Philadelphia. There’s even a good chance that a California team can put together a competitive trade package for Simmons. However, the teams that can do that reside in northern California, not Los Angeles. It’s nice to see the Clippers used as leverage in offseason machinations, a sign of their improving status around the league, but they’re not in a position to actually get Simmons. Whatever moves the Clippers do make for the remainder of the offseason will be much quieter than this one.
More news for Wednesday:
- Serge Ibaka is back in Katie Heindl’s NBA Summer Watch.
- Check out where John Schuhmann places the Clippers in the NBA.com offseason power rankings.
- Kevin Pelton also gives his offseason grades for the Western Conference teams.
- Did Rajon Rondo take a shot at Ty Lue in his (re)-introductory press conference as a Laker?
- The field for the first round of qualifying for the 2023 FIBA World Cup has been set.
- Congrats on retirement, Jackie MacMullan!