The 76ers point guard who was widely criticized for his performance during Philadelphia's second-round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks told team brass including head coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey last week that he doesn't want to play for the team any more, according to the report. He does not intend to report to training camp.
The 76ers have actively sought to trade Simmons this offseason, but haven't found a team willing to part with the "king's ransom" Morey seeks in return, according to the report. A source told Pompey that "there's so much bad blood between" Simmons and the 76ers.
Simmons a unique and uniquely flawed talent
It's no secret that the 76ers have been shopping Simmons, knowledge that has diminished his trade value. Teams don't want to overpay for a player the 76ers are actively seeking to deal. Simmons is approaching the second season of a five-year, $177 million contract.
Simmons, 25, is coming off his third All-Star appearance and his second All-Defensive Team selection in four NBA seasons. But the shooting woes that have plagued his game since joining the NBA were magnified as the top-seeded 76ers failed to reach the Eastern Conference finals.
Simmons was a liability on offense in Philadelphia's playoff loss to Atlanta. He failed to score in double digits in four of the seven games and was repeatedly benched in late-game situations because of his inability to make free throws. During the Hawks series, Simmons not only struggled to make shots, but became increasingly unwilling to take them.
'Bad blood' origins?
He attempted just four field goals in Philadelphia's Game 7 loss and passed up a late open layup, a decision fellow 76ers All-Star Joel Embiid described as "the turning point" in the game. In the same postgame media session, Rivers was asked if he believed Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team. Rivers responded: "I don't know the answer to that right now."
Rivers told reporters the next day he was "very bullish" on Simmons while teasing a plan to fix his shooting woes. But the "bad blood" between Simmons and the 76ers was apparently already established.
Simmons, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft and an integral part of "The Process" rebuilding plan alongside Embiid, has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.7 blocks per game in four NBA seasons. His diverse skill set and 6-11 frame make him a one-of-a-kind talent as an NBA point guard. His career 5-of-34 (14.7%) shooting clip from 3-point distance and 59.7% free-throw rate also make him a unique liability as a perimeter player who needs the ball in his hands to succeed.
Simmons will certainly have suitors thanks to his distinctive skill set. But his shooting struggles and the 76ers' obvious plans to deal him will make it difficult for Morey to realize full value on the trade market.