Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has made it clear he wants to be traded. The Sacramento Kings, according to oddsmakers, are considered the odds-on favorite to acquire his services.
The Simmons saga took another turn for the worse Tuesday when Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Simmons has demanded a trade and will not report to training camp in Philadelphia. The 76ers have held a hard line in trade talks about Simmons, but they might have to come back to the table to consider more reasonable offers after trying to hold out for another star.
During a meeting last week in Los Angeles, Simmons told 76ers president Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand and coach Doc Rivers he no longer wants to remain in Philadelphia, sources told the Inquirer. Sources also told the newspaper Simmons does not intend to report to the 76ers when training camp begins Sept. 28.
League sources told The Sacramento Bee in July the Kings had expressed interest in Simmons, an elite defender who could help transform Sacramento’s defense. MyBookie, an online sports betting site, recently installed the Kings as +275 favorites to acquire Simmons. The Kings were followed by the Minnesota Timberwolves (+400), Golden State Warriors (+550), Portland Trail Blazers (+900), San Antonio Spurs (+1200) and Washington Wizards (+1900). PointsBet is listing the Kings and Blazers as +150 favorites with the Warriors third at +250.
Simmons, 25, is a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection who came out of LSU as the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals over his first four seasons with the 76ers, but he is a 14.7% 3-point shooter and a 59.7% free-throw shooter. Simmons is entering the second year of a five-year, $177.2 million contract. He is owed $147 million over the next four years, including $33 million next season.
The relationship between Simmons and the 76ers has deteriorated amid the fallout from a seven-game loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Philadelphia has set a high price for Simmons — reportedly demanding an All-Star caliber player in return — but his trade value has taken a hit and the 76ers are losing leverage by the day.
Adding to the drama in Philadelphia, Bleacher Report’s Jason Dumas reported Tuesday: “There’s a high chance that Tyrese Maxey will be part of any Ben Simmons trade. (Agent) Rich Paul would like both of his clients out of Philadelphia.”
The 76ers were widely believed to be holding out for a chance to acquire Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers, but Lillard recently said he isn’t leaving Portland, “not right now at least.” As for Sacramento, sources have suggested the 76ers would only be willing to consider an offer that includes De’Aaron Fox or Tyrese Haliburton. The Kings are unlikely to part with either player, but they can offer Buddy Hield, a prolific 3-point shooter who would space the floor for Joel Embiid; Marvin Bagley III, a former No. 2 pick who has yet to reach his potential; and other assets, including multiple first-round draft picks.
Simmons’ future in Philadelphia was called into question after his shooting woes were further exposed in the series against Atlanta. He did not attempt a shot in the fourth quarter of the last four games, passing up open shots and even an easy dunk. Pompey noted Simmons looked timid and afraid to go to the free-throw line, where he made just 25 of 73 (.342) during the playoffs. Rivers openly wondered if the 76ers could win a championship with Simmons at point guard. Teammates, including Embiid, threw Simmons under the bus as well.
Simmons’ shooting would be a concern for the Kings, but that’s an experiment they would be willing to try after recording the second-worst defensive rating in NBA history last season. Kings general manager Monte McNair is determined to make a big move as the franchise seeks to end its 15-year playoff drought, sources said. The Kings have also shown interest in Toronto Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam, but Siakam isn’t seeking a trade and the Raptors are unlikely to move him, a source with knowledge of the situation in Toronto told The Bee.