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Simmons debacle causes chaos for Sixers

October 6, 2021

The Philadelphia 76ers and their star guard Ben Simmons have had a rough summer.

It all started in the second round of the playoffs, when the Sixers were facing the Atlanta Hawks. Despite being heavy favorites to beat the Hawks, the Sixers suffered late game collapses against them in three different games, allowing the series to go to a game seven.

In that seventh game, with three and a half minutes to go and the Sixers up by two, Simmons posted up on Hawks forward Danilo Gallinari. With a quick spin, he was open under the basket, but instead of going up for the shot, he passed the ball to his teammate Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled.

The Sixers went on to lose the game and thus the series, and that play became the defining moment of the playoffs for Simmons: passing up an open dunk because he was too afraid to try to score. In all of the fourth quarters of that Hawks-Sixers series combined, Simmons attempted exactly three field goals, closing it out with four straight fourth quarters without a single shot attempt.

For a star player—even a defensive-minded one—this is unacceptable.

Simmons was not attempting shots because he did not want to get fouled and have to shoot free throws. In the 2021 playoffs, Simmons shot 34.2 percent at the line—a horrendous number.

This number places Simmons nearby some of the worst free throw-shooting star players of all time, including centers Dwight Howard, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal.

Because of this, teams would foul him the moment he laid hands on the ball late in games, hoping that he would miss his free throws and they would get the ball back. This worked so well that in the final minute of that game seven, with the game still within reach, Simmons was subbed out, just to give his team a chance to win.

After they lost, it seemed clear that the Sixers will try to trade Simmons, in the hopes of finding a player who would fit better on their team and give them a chance at winning a title.

But the going has been tough. Despite Simmons’s positive abilities on the court—elite defense and solid playmaking—few teams want to give up talented players to acquire him.

Needless to say, this has created a difficult situation for the team. Simmons is aware that they are trying to trade him and has reportedly grown frustrated that they have not yet done so.

Now, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons does not plan to show up to training camp. This will be a breach of his contract, and the Sixers will likely fine him for it, making a bad situation worse.

Whatever trade value Simmons had left will be cratered in the coming weeks if he makes good on his plan, as the rest of the league sees how desperate the Sixers will be to trade him.

What makes this even worse? Just eight months ago, Simmons was rumored to be at the center of a deal for then-Houston Rockets guard James Harden; a recent MVP, nine-time all-star, nine-time all-NBA player, and three-time scoring champion.

Now? He might be traded—at best—for a player like Minnesota Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell; a one-time all-star who has been on four different teams in his six year NBA career.

Is this surprising for the Sixers? Not at all. They’re only two years removed from signing 34-year-old center Al Horford to to a four-year $109 million contract, just so they could play him out of position alongside their star center Joel Embiid for a year and then dump him for forward Danny Green from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Bad decisions are nothing new for the Sixers; this is just another one to add to the list.

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