Philadelphia 76ers Rumors: Ben Simmons will be in training camp this fall

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

“For the Philadelphia 76ers, all eyes turn to Damian Lillard now that the draft and free agency are in the rearview mirror.”

These words, paraphrased ever so slightly for SEO purposes, belong to Derek Bodner, the senior Sixers staff writer for The Athletic and one of the better all-around guys at what he does. If you care to read even more of his words on the subject, please feel free, though it won’t be free per se, as the story does require a subscription to read, but if not, I imagine you can assume its contents based on the headline alone.

The Sixers are all-in on trading for Lillard and are willing to do whatever it takes to get that done.

Is that news? No. The team has made it no secret that they would like to acquire a superstar, MVP-caliber player to pair up with Joel Embiid moving forward, and Lillard unquestionably fits that bill. Factor in the current state of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise and their not-so-impressive summer of at best questionable offseason moves, and the idea that Lillard could one day be available it isn’t outside of the realm of possibility, even if Bobby Marks reports that the Dame D.O.L.L.A. is more likely to start of the season in the Pacific Northwest versus the City of Brotherly Love.

*sigh* but unfortunately, Mr. Marks had to swoop in yet again and rain on Philly’s parade, on this, the day of the Philadelphia Eagles’ open practice and Zack Wheelers’ career-best outing versus the New York Mets no less.

Per the former general manager of the Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons will (probably) be in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform come training camp, assuming, of course, he actually decides to show up.

Are the Philadelphia 76ers really going to run it back this fall?

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As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers are a marginally improved team than in 2020-21.

They’ve added another versatile combo guard in 18-year-old University of Tennessee product Jaden Springer, improved their depth with the additions – and return – of Charles Bassey, Aaron Henry, and Rajon Tucker, swapped out Dwight Howard for Andre Drummond, and landed a high-upside forward in Georges Nieng who can better fill the role expected from Mike Scott when he initially signed a two-year, $9.8 million deal back in 2019.

Factor in the return of Danny Green on a very team-friendly deal, and the top seed in the Eastern Conference last season should have pretty solid continuity heading into the 2021-22 NBA season.

But is continuity enough to remain competitive in a conference that just got a whole lot better? I… don’t think so.

Even if the Sixers are able to perform at the same level as last season, they’ll be tasked with facing off against a Milwaukee Bucks team that always plays them hard, a Miami Heat team that’s been fully reloaded for action, and a Brooklyn Nets team who just made the sneaky big pickup of landing Olympics star Patty Mills on a two-year deal worth $12 million.

Now I like most of the Sixers’ moves, especially the additions of Nieng and Drummond, but neither is even on the level of landing Mills, let alone sign-and-trading for Kyle Lowry. If the Sixers’ goal this offseason was to leave little doubt about their championship ceiling, they may have actually done the opposite, which isn’t particularly good news for fans in the 215.

To say the Sixers’ offseason was a failure would be overly critical. They didn’t lose any particularly important players, worked the margins to land some decent deals, and drafted well with their three picks. But it also wouldn’t be right to call the summer an outright success either, not to the level fans of the Heat, Chicago Bulls, and Los Angeles Lakers are anyway.

No, as things presently stand, the Sixers’ offseason feels incredibly incomplete, largely because they still have a 6-foot-10, 240-pound question mark looming over their franchise; a question mark that makes it incredibly hard to really comment on the strength of their offseason addition.

Take, for example, the addition of Drummond. While some will call him a bust who cracked under the pressure of playing with the Lakers, that simply isn’t true. Drummond still averaged the fourth-most rebounds of any center in the NBA last season and remained an effective screen setter. If he were paired up with a guard who could shoot, that offensive attack could have been potent, but between LeBron James, Alex Caruso, and Dennis Schroder, Frank Vogel’s squad just didn’t have the personnel to attack the hoop the way the Piston did early in the 27-year-old’s career when paired up with Reggie Jackson.

If Simmons remains the Sixers’ point guard this fall, and the team uses Springer, Tyrese Maxey, and Shake Milton as their reserve ball handers, the addition of Drummond makes about as much sense as bringing back Howard, but if the team instead had plans to acquire an All-Star caliber point guard who can attack the basket from all three levels of the court, then deploying Jennette McCurdy’s former boyfriend as a backup big makes some sense.

Could that still happen? Sure, but probably not any time soon.

No, if Bobby Marks’ assumption proves correct, Simmons will be back with the Sixers in time for camp – reluctantly, I’m sure – and the start of the season will essentially serve as a waiting game of “just how bad will the Portland Trail Blazers be this fall.” They’ll hope he comes out hot right out of the gate, recoups some trade value, and ends up as the focal point for a James Harden-esque trade a la the Brooklyn Nets-Houston Rockets deal back in January.

Is this an ideal situation to be in? No! Players like Maxey, Springer, Matisse Thybulle, and pretty much everyone on the team not named Joel Embiid will have to play with the idea of being traded in the back of their minds, the team’s gameplan will continue to try to cater to two very different All-Stars, and the season will essentially serve as a waiting game for an external stimulant to change their fates before the trade deadline.

Is that really the best way to compete for championships? To hope for a miracle mid-season and then hope a re-assembled team can put it all together on the fly? The Bucks didn’t do that with Jrue Holiday, the Lakers didn’t do that with Anthony Davis, and the Toronto Raptors didn’t do that with Kawhi Leonard either. The last time a team made a roster-reshaping trade midseason and almost parlayed it to a championship with it was the Sixers’ Jimmy Butler addition 13 games into the regular season, and we all know how that one turned out.

*sigh* at least the Summer League starts up this week, right?

Next. 2021 is shaping up to be Matisse Thybulle’s year. dark

Bringing Ben Simmons back to camp this fall isn’t the worst-case scenario for the Philadelphia 76ers. No, the worst-case scenario would be to trade him for a sub-par package like the one offered up by the Indiana Pacers and have to watch Simmons flourish elsewhere in a roster built around his talent. With that being said, bringing back Simmons would essentially stall out any sort of progression the Sixers were hoping to build upon, going from season one to two under Doc Rivers and kick an inevitable breakup down the line until some star player demands their way out of town. But riddle me this, what if that next star to demand a trade is Ben Simmons? Then what happens?