After he went missing in Philadelphia’s shock game seven loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA playoffs, talk has quickly turned to where Ben Simmons’ basketball future lies.
The 24-year-old has been widely slammed for his playoffs flop, which was most evident when Simmons gave up an open look at a dunk to pass the ball off to a teammate deep in the fourth quarter of the deciding game against the Hawks.
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Even Sixers coach Doc Rivers, Simmons’ greatest supporter and defender, has lost faith in his chief playmaker.
When asked if Simmons could win an NBA championship while playing point guard, Rivers responded: “I don’t know the answer to that”.
His teammate Joel Embiid was less than subtle when suggesting after the game Simmons’ refusal to dunk the ball was the moment he lost the game for the team.
“I mean, I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we — I don’t know how to say it — 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,” he said.
It’s been a tough few days for Simmons, who stunned Australia with his reported decision to pull out of the Australia’s Tokyo Olympics campaign with the Boomers.
Now it appears that the Australian is almost certainly on the NBA trade table and the question is not if Simmons will be traded, but to which team and at what cost?
Former players and experts have piled on the pain, arguing that the Sixers are well within their rights to trade Simmons given his sub-par playoffs effort and his lack of confidence in his own basketball ability.
Who knows where he’ll end up? Ben Simmons’ future is up in the air after he flopped in the playoffs for the Philadelphia 76ers. Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images/AFPSource:AFP
NBA legend Magic Johnson believes Simmons should leave Philadelphia for his own good.
“I think it’s time for (Simmons’ agent) Rich Paul to get him out of Philly,” the five-time NBA champion told ESPN, according to the New York Post.
“He needs to get with a veteran to bring that confidence back … then work on your shot.
Simmons didn’t attempt a shot in the fourth quarter in five of the seven games in the second-round series against the Hawks.
“He’s not aggressive on the offensive end,” Johnson said.
“Ben, it’s time for a change because he can’t recover from this. The locker room won’t recover from it.
“He needs to be somewhere else … it’s over.
“He’s a soft leader in terms of soft-spoken and if you don’t deliver during crunch time, the finger’s going to get pointed … at Ben Simmons.”
The 24-year-old was also given a scathing review from NBA legend Charles Barkley at halftime in the loss to the Hawks after he failed to show up in the first half. The message clearly didn’t get through.
“He’s getting rid of that ball. He’s playing scared,” he said.
“He’s afraid to get fouled. He’s playing scared.”
NBA legend Magic Johnon believes Ben Simmons needs to leave the 76ers and work on his game in the off-season. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP)Source:AFP
ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith had a brutal assessment of Simmons as well.
“Ben Simmons is literally scared to shoot the basketball,” he said.
“He gave up a wide open dunk because he anticipated being fouled and didn’t want to go to the free throw line.”
The basketball pundit said Philadelphia is an unforgiving town that will constantly berate him.
“It’s mental and in Philly I don’t believe he could overcome that,” he said.
Even NFL great Shannon Sharpe weighed in.
“The 76ers should trade Ben Simmons. They will never win a championship with him,” he said on Undisputed.
“Ben Simmons hasn’t gotten any better since he arrived as a rookie.”
Senior ESPN reporter Zach Lowe belives Simmons’ reputation has taken a real hit from these playoffs and it is all but certain that he will be traded by Philadelphia in the off-season.
“There’s no sugar-coating it: the Simmons thing is an ongoing disaster unfolding on a national stage,” he said on ESPN’s Get Up.
“2018 playoffs he wasn’t good enough. 2019 playoffs he wasn’t good enough. 2020 he gets injured. This year he is even worse.
“The bottom line is the only time the Sixers looked like a real championship threat was when Jimmy Butler was there for that one season and they pushed Toronto to the limit in the Kawhi (Leonard) shot game. They haven’t looked that way since. Ben Simmons does a lot of great things but offensively he’s just disappeared.”
He said the Sixers will be forced to take a desperate trade to get Simmons out of the town and will likely get very little back in return.
“Unfortunately for the Sixers, the other 29 general managers, they all watched the playoffs,” he said.
“They all saw all of this too, so they are in a really tough spot.”
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