The Philadelphia 76ers do not want Ben Simmons, least of all now that he has made it clear he doesn’t want them, either. Doc Rivers might be out proclaiming otherwise to anyone who’ll listen, but this grim tour is transparently in service of salvaging a stalemate between team president Daryl Morey, who is determined to win the press conference in any Simmons trade, and the 29 other teams in the league, who for a variety of reasons are not yet persuaded to cast off the negotiating leverage that comes from knowing your trade adversary has none of his own. While Morey sticks to his guns and Simmons remains technically a Sixer, the situation will continue to be just deliciously acrimonious.
Simmons wants absolutely nothing to do with his former coworkers in Philadelphia. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported Saturday that a delegation of 76ers players hoped to travel last week to Los Angeles to “meet … and spend time” with their teammate, with the goal of improving a busted relationship and making it possible for Simmons to return to the locker room in the event that Morey is unsuccessful at working a trade. We’re not talking Furkan damn Korkmaz here—these were the real-deal heavy-hitters, the core Sixers who give the team its quality and identity. Simmons, in a delightfully clarifying move, urged them not to waste their time or money:
The core leaders on the 76ers — such as Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle — and most of the team were set to take a jet to see Simmons before being turned away, sources said. Multiple sources said Simmons didn’t want his teammates, some of whom he considers friends, to make the Philadelphia-to-Los Angeles commute out of courtesy because he won’t change his mind on wanting a trade.The Athletic
It’s apparently not just his teammates and coaches that Simmons is working to escape. According to a hilarious report from ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, Simmons cannot tolerate 76ers fans and intends to never perform in front of them again as a member of the home team. I too loathe all Philadelphia sports fans from the bottom of my heart, but I am only willing to make that known publicly because at no point will I be forced to perform at my job while physically in the presence of 10,000 of them:
Can you even imagine what will happen if Ben Simmons is forced to take the court for the Philadelphia 76ers in a regular-season contest at any point in the 2021–22 regular season? My God. The Philadelphia Inquirer has already published a scorched-earth Marcus Hayes column with the wonderful sub-header “Betrayed,” calling Simmons a “child” who is sacrificing “the greater good” at the altar of his own “entitlement,” and training camp hasn’t even started yet. This is all going to rule insanely hard.
The only downside is that I am forced by my own heroic, unblemished track record of pro-worker argumentation to admit that even Ben Simmons deserves to escape intolerable working conditions and pursue a better gig. He may hate and fear the act of putting a basketball into a hoop in a sport where points are scored by putting basketballs into hoops, and that may be a source of tremendous comedy for nearly all sports fans, but it would be cruel and humiliating at this point for him to wear the uniform of the franchise that all but put a “FREE TO GOOD FAMILY” sign on his back upon the occasion of an achingly regrettable new low point in his punishingly public life. Simmons is a 76er today not because the 76ers want Ben Simmons, but because they want the mightiest haul they can score while jettisoning Ben Simmons. Yes, that’s how the sport works, but you will note in the meantime that only Simmons is taking shit for wanting to dissolve this relationship. His crime, here, is declining to participate in a big humiliating performance. It’s disgusting and hurtful to me personally that I am now forced to defend him after having reveled so shamelessly in his professional failures.
On the other hand, to the extent that Hayes is correct about this all serving as a massive and disabling distraction for the 76ers basketball operation, I hope it goes unresolved for one thousand years.