We are close to the point of no return (if we haven’t gotten there already) with Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers.
What first started as the All-Star guard asking for a trade this offseason has now turned to Simmons boycotting training camp.
The fines, which have already been excessive ($7,500 for missed practices at a minimum), and the $227,000 that Simmons will lose for every game he misses, have not persuaded him to show up in person.
Simmons is under contract through 2024-25, and the 76ers have elected to slow play the trade process with two beliefs — 1) that the marriage is still salvageable, and 2) that there is no trade right now that improves the roster, or at the very least keeps them as an Eastern Conference contender.
“I think there’s a lot of hope,” 76ers president Daryl Morey said Monday morning during his season-opening news conference alongside coach Doc Rivers. “I would say I watched last night a player [the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers] lead his team to victory when a thousand pounds of digital ink were spilled on how much he would never play for that team again.
“Look, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here.”
But what happens if we get to the start of the season and the situation is the same? Or come early December and the 76ers are a .500 team?
Would Philadelphia take the best deal on the table or wait until after Dec. 15, when trade restrictions are lifted on most of the free agents signed this offseason?
To show the challenges the 76ers’ front office faces in finding the right trade, we have broken down the 29 teams into five different tiers, starting with the group that has the combination of young prospects, top-caliber players, contracts and draft assets to make a deal.
At a minimum, a team has to send out at least $26.5 million in salary for a Simmons trade to work.
MORE: Everything we know about the Ben Simmons situation
Tier 1: Teams that check all the boxes
Portland Trail Blazers
Removing Damian Lillard from any trade talks leaves the Blazers with CJ McCollum as their prized trade asset.
McCollum, who is coming off six straight seasons of scoring at least 20 points per game, is under contract through the 2023-24 season.
Lillard has asked for upgrades to the roster, but is Simmons the right player? And especially at the cost of Lillard’s longtime backcourt partner?
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