Is Ben Simmons’ Future in Philadelphia?
The Sixers season came to an abrupt end on Sunday night, losing Game 7 to the Atlanta Hawks on their home floor. The loss triggered off a plethora of questions for the offseason, including the future of Ben Simmons in Philadelphia.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers tried to make some sense of what happened to his team, that was good enough this season to earn the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference field.
So now what? What's next for this Sixers franchise that hasn't been able to get out of the second round of the playoffs since Allen Iverson led a group to the NBA Finals back in the 2000-2001 season.
"I know exactly what we want to do," Rivers stated on Monday. "I'm positive in Ben, I'm very bullish on Ben Still, and Ben will be willing to do it. Sometimes you have to go through stuff to see it, and be honest with it."
Even after a rough series and a ton of disdain from the fans, Simmons expressed a desire to remain in Philadelphia to play for the only organization he has ever known.
“Yeah, I love being in Philly," Simmons said on Sunday night. "I love this organization. The fans are great people. I had a bad series. I expect that (boos). It’s Philly.”
Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who many have compared Simmons' game too, suggested a fresh start might be what he needs at this point.
"He needs a fresh start, Johnson stated on ESPN's Get Up. It's time to trade him. It will be good for the Sixers as well as good for Ben. For his confidence, he needs to get with a veteran to bring his confidence back."
Simmons also acknowledged his offense let the team down in the postseason.
"Offensively, I wasn't there," admitted Simmons. "I didn't do enough for my teammates. ... There's a lot of things that I need to work on."
He averaged a career low 11.9 playoff points per game, taking just 7.9 shots and shooting a NBA career low 34.2% from the free throw line during these playoffs, a far cry from the 16.3 points, 12.5 shots and 70.7% free throw percentage he had during his rookie campaign in the postseason.
"He struggled from the free throw line and that became a factor in the series, there is no doubt about that," Rivers acknowledged after the game on Sunday.
So can he be fixed? Rivers believes the team has a plan in place that will help Simmons take his game to another level. While Simmons was slated to play for his native Australia during the Tokyo games, according to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, he will instead skip the games to work on his game.
So does Rivers saying they have a plan for Simmons suggest that he will be back with the team? On Monday's edition of The Sports Bash, I asked ESPN Front Office insider Bobby Marks what kind of market there might be for the three-time All-Star.
"The options that were there in November and December are not going to be there right now," Marks explained. "I think its a pipe dream when we're hearing names like Bradley Beal or Dame Lilliard, Ben's not on that level." I don't think you get get him for Zach LaVine , I don't think you can get him for C.J. McCollum."
Marks mentioned the possibility of breaking up Simmons contract and adding two-or-three role players to replace him if the team is looking in that direction and can't get a bigger name player in return.
Whatever happens this summer, the Simmons situation will be one to watch closely.