Following a disappointing second-round playoff series back in June, the Sixers pondered about a potential breakup with their starting point guard Ben Simmons. As the three-time All-Star struggled to have an offensive impact in the critical postseason series, the organization was open to trying something different.
At first, Simmons mentioned he wanted to return to Philly. Now, he's had a change of heart. And the veteran All-Star and his camp are willing to play hardball with the 76ers in order to have his trade wishes granted sooner than later.
Ben Simmons won't show up to training camp in a few weeks if he's still a member of the Sixers. While the 76ers' organization was willing to put everything past them and welcome the star guard back into the building in late September, Simmons made it clear he has no intentions of coming back.
According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, Simmons and his camp made it clear to the Sixers that it's not his job to boost his trade value. So, as the Sixers seek to find a trade that meets Daryl Morey's high asking price, Simmons will patiently wait for everything to unfold and doesn't plan to do anything on his end to help the organization out.
NBA legend Shaquille O'Neal has paid close attention to the situation in Philly. Being somebody who isn't afraid to criticize current players, O'Neal expectedly got critical of Simmons on a recent episode of The Big Podcast.
“Ben Simmons, you’re not that good. In this league, do you wanna be good? Or do you wanna be great? You’re not great. If you wanna get to that next level, you have to be great. And to be great, you have to work on your game. Don't be putting pictures on Instagram of your Ferrari or what actress you're hanging around with. When you play for a town like Philadelphia, Boston, L.A., Miami, a hard-working town, they don’t give a [expletive] about none of that. They want you to come, work hard, and play hard."
Shaq also went on to describe Simmons as "terrified" as he watched the Sixers' second-round series against the Hawks. As Simmons struggled mightily from the free-throw line throughout Philly's entire playoff run, the veteran guard showed signs of being hesitant on offense as it seemed he wanted to avoid the charity stripe.
Simmons' value is lower than it's ever been based on what he showed in the playoffs last year. Therefore, it's become more difficult for the Sixers to move on from him. A trade might be inevitable at this point, but many expect the situation to get more uncomfortable as time goes by.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.