Heading into this season, one reoccurring question for the Philadelphia 76ers was how they might look without Ben Simmons in the lineup. Despite spontaneously ending his holdout in the middle of the preseason, the former number one pick has not come close to taking the floor in an NBA game. Simmons has cited he is not mentally ready to rejoin his teammates on the court, and the organization has respected his wishes and offered all the help they can provide.
Since his debut, Simmons has been a focal point for the Sixers on both ends of the floor. The 25-year-old was the maestro of the team’s offense, and his versatility on defense helped shape Philly’s reputation as a defensive powerhouse. Replacing the production he brings on the floor was going to be a tough challenge for Doc Rivers and company.
Missing one of their key pieces, many expected the Sixers to stumble out of the gate. Instead, the complete opposite happened. Through the first ten games of the season, they sat atop the Eastern Conference with a record of 8-2 and had the NBA’s best offense. Not bad for a team adjusting to life without one of their franchise cornerstones.
While this strong start was a great moment for the team, it might have negatively impacted their off-the-court business. In a recent podcast for HoopsHype, Michael Scotto reported this impressive run hurt Simmons’ stock even more.
“I’ve heard this from some executives, too, that when Joel Embiid was healthy and before their recent losing streak, this team was performing well without [Ben Simmons]. Some executives said to me it further lowered the trade value for Ben.”
From the beginning, Daryl Morey has held firm on his stance regarding a Simmons trade. Until an offer comes about that increases the Sixers’ chances to compete for a title, he will remain patient. The longtime executive has no intentions of trading the three-time All-Star just for the sake of doing so.
Seeing how well the team managed to adapt and thrive in his absence certainly wasn’t a good look for his value. Many believed it couldn’t get any lower following the series against the Atlanta Hawks this postseason, but the Sixers’ opening weeks of the season might have caused it to take another hit.
Morey was already behind the eight ball dealing with an All-Star who refuses to take the court. Now, he has to convince other front offices how valuable Simmons is while the team continues to rip off impressive wins.
At the end of the day, Simmons is always going to have value to other franchises. He is a multiple-time All-Star, perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, under contract long-term, and just entering the prime years of his career. These factors alone make him an enticing young player to take a chance on for most organizations around the league.
It’s safe to assume Morey will never end his pursuit of landing a high-level player in exchange for Simmons. That said, one has to speculate if how well the Sixers have played this year has made his job even harder.