Ben Simmons is where he wants to be — still in a Philadelphia 76ers uniform.
For months he had been mentioned as the cornerstone of any James Harden trade to Philadelphia, and when that talk caught fire for 24 hours Simmons was uncomfortable. For whatever reason — owner Tilman Fertitta didn’t want to send Harden to Daryl Morey and Philly, the Rockets preferred a package of picks and just used the Sixers as leverage, or the sides just couldn’t find a deal — Simmons is staying put and trying to win next to Joel Embiid.
Simmons was “ecstatic” about that, reports Marc Spears of ESPN’s The Undefeated.
Simmons should take a deep breath, exhale, and relax.
Then he should realize: 1) He absolutely was on the block and was part of trade package discussions; 2) if this current version of the 76ers doesn’t succeed — and that means make a deep playoff run — he will be the guy on the trade block again.
Simmons is safe today, but he is not safe long term if he doesn’t make himself invaluable and irreplaceable. He has not been that this season, averaging 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists a game — Simmons has been good, but not at the All-Star level of seasons past. Games like the recent two points on five shots night against Miami need to be a thing of the past.
It’s more than just racking up points, it’s about defending and contributing to wins. Is Simmons doing enough on that front that Morey and the Philadelphia front office can’t imagine winning without him? There’s a lot of season left for Simmons to implant that idea in the minds of Sixers fans and the front office.
Simmons may be ecstatic to still be a Sixer, but to stay that way, he’s got work to do.