NBA
July 20, 2021

Here's Why Ben Simmons Has Played His Last Game with Philadelphia 76ers

Following the Philadelphia 76ers' disappointing second-round playoff exit, the focus around the franchise remains on Ben Simmons’ future. 

The former No. 1 overall pick's notable offensive struggles contributed to the 76ers falling short of the Eastern Conference Finals for the fourth straight season.

As the offseason quickly approaches, here’s why Simmons won't play another game in Philadelphia. 

Simmons' Struggles on Offense

Simmons entered the NBA with massive hype around him, quickly becoming one of the league’s top young talents. 

The LSU product established himself as a game-changing guard behind his passing and defensive ability. However, he’s continued to showcase a lack of development in his outside shot and free-throw shooting. 

In an era where the three-point shot is almost a must, Simmons has incredibly made just 5 of his 34 career attempts from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, he’s shooting 59.7% from the free-throw line. His scoring woes became extremely prevalent in the second-round playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, averaging 9.9 points along with shooting 32.7% from the charity stripe. 

His struggles included attempting just three shots and scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter in the seven games. Simmons’ offensive issues have reached a breaking point after completing four seasons without a consistent jump shot.

Whether it’s a mental block or lack of shooting touch, the 24-year-old’s scoring struggles are a huge part of the problem, not the solution in Philadelphia.

Opportunity To Acquire Another Star

Although Simmons’ stock has fallen around the league, he remains one of the game’s best facilitators and defenders. 

The Sixers initially voiced their desire to keep Simmons aboard while head coach Doc Rivers said he will work directly with the three-time All-Star. However, general manager Daryl Morey is willing to listen to trade offers hoping to receive another star player in return.

Simmons is heading into the second year of his five-year, $177.2 million deal that runs through the 2024-25 season. The contract also contains no player or team options. 

Philadelphia has reportedly received interest from several teams, including the Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Morey will have his options, it’s whether he views any of them as feasible.

Commitment To Joel Embiid

Likely the biggest reason Simmons may have played his final game with the 76ers comes directly tied to Joel Embiid

It’s no secret that the two aren’t the closest of teammates on and off the floor. The star big man subtly hinted at Simmons’ decision to not dunk late in the Game 7 loss to the Hawks as a “turning point.”

“I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we – I don’t know how to say it,” Embiid said via NBC Sports. “But I thought the turning point was just, we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored and we didn’t get a good possession on the other end and Trae [Young] came back and he made a three and then, from there down four.

“And then I got – it’s on me. I turned the ball over, tried to make something happen from the perimeter. But I thought that was the turning point.”

Beyond that, Embiid is eligible to sign a four-year supermax contract extension worth approximately $190 million this offseason after being selected to the All-NBA Second Team. He has already elected to leave CAA, signaling a major contractual decision ahead.

If the 76ers do offer Embiid the supermax extension, it’s hard not to believe they won’t listen to what the star big man wants from the team moving forward. Those plans may not include Simmons, which may become the final straw for his 76ers’ tenure. 

Photo: Getty Images