As the standoff between Ben Simmons and Philadelphia continues, the star player is willing to go to extreme lengths to get his way.
Ben Simmons is willing to sit out the entire upcoming NBA season, according to reports around the latest development in his standoff with the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 25-year-old has cut ties with his team since his disappointing playoffs performance and the chances of him lining up for the 76ers’ opening game of the season are dwindling by the day.
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Simmons has refused to meet with his teammates to discuss his concerns and reportedly doesn’t want to play with star centre Joel Embiid anymore.
He also faces eye-watering fines for failing to show up for Philadelphia’s media day and training camp. The fines will only increase if he misses games in the regular season, which begins on 19 October.
New reports indicate Simmons is seriously considering missing the entire season, or however long it takes for the saga to be resolved as he seeks a trade to another team.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne believes in a “worst case scenario”, Simmons would be willing to sit out the 2021-22 season until he is traded, an agreement is reached with the 76ers or until he recovers mentally after his draining playoffs and off-season.
“I talked to somebody close to Ben the other day, and they said, ‘What is the purpose of him showing up at this point?’” Shelburne said on The Jump.
“With all that has happened in this off-season, if Ben even shows up, let’s say it’s a month from now or two months from now, he has no intention of ever doing that — but what Ben Simmons are you going to get at this point?
“Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, is he going to be the same guy he was for you in the past few years?
“Ben Simmons is willing to sit as long as it takes, too. When you talk to people close to Ben, and I say, ‘Worse case scenario it takes all year, will he sit all year?’ And the answer right now is, ‘Yes’.”
ESPN personality Stephen A Smith slammed Simmons for not using the disappointment of his poor playoffs performance against the Hawks to motivate himself and improve his game.
“He’s pointing the finger at everybody but himself,” Smith said. “You should feel compelled to make up to the fans of Philadelphia (for) how you performed in the series against the Atlanta Hawks, rather than running away from Philadelphia.
“You should want to run back to Philadelphia.
“Ben Simmons, you are literally a jump shot away from being LeBron James 2.0.
If this brother hits 70 to 75 per cent of his free throws, he is so special.
“At 6ft 10 (208cm), with those ball handling and passing skills, that basketball IQ, combined with his defensive prowess, this brother is an elite talent that could be a superstar in this league.
“I couldn’t tell you three places in America better to be a star in than a city of Philadelphia in terms of a fan base that will come out and ride and die with you so long as you’re that dude.”
Smith added Simmons’ decision to walk out on the 76ers with four years and $205 million (AUD) left on his contract could make other teams reluctant to sign him in the future.
“You want to talk about it being against the organisation, but the organisation is the same organisation you signed your contract extension for, you’re still owed $147 million (USD) for,” Smith said.
“To not show up for work a year after signing that contract extension is egregious and if he doesn’t show up to work, it will be held against him because everybody in the league will assume he’s the kind of dude that’s going to quit on you. You better be careful.”
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal said it’s up to Simmons to improve the weaknesses in his game because teams won’t sign him if he isn’t “aggressive” and doesn’t want to shoot the ball.
“He’s not showing up. As a player, you have to be able to be real with yourself,” O’Neal told CBS sports radio. “The way you need to play is be aggressive and he definitely got exposed in last year in the playoffs.
“You have to look in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I as good as I can be?’ Simmons (is) going about it all wrong.
“The question is, does anybody want him? I’m not paying a guy $200 million who will not be aggressive and will not shoot.”
Kendrick Perkins, who won an NBA championship with the Boston Celtics in 2008, argues Simmons is “scared” and “afraid” to face the music in Philadelphia after he passed up easy shots and could barely hit a free throw in the playoffs.
“He’s scared,” Perkins told ESPN. “And it’s not because of basketball or playing with Joel Embiid and if the process don’t work, because he didn’t think about the process when he signed that five-year, $177 million extension. He didn’t think about it not working then.
“Here’s the fact. Ben Simmons played poorly the last part of the season. We all witnessed that. I think the brother probably took three shots in seven games in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks. Three!
“And so right now at the end of the day, Ben Simmons is pointing the finger at everybody except who he needs to be pointing it at and that’s Ben Simmons.
“Look, it’s not easy, I get it. As a professional athlete or doing anything that you have to deal with a crowd or deal with feedback on social media, whatever the case may be.
“But he’s afraid to face the crowd. He’s afraid to step in that arena and hear those boos and silence the critics.
“You’ve got to have a mental toughness about yourself, some time of grown man mentality about I’m about to silence the critics that he don’t have.”