When Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey hopped on a local afternoon radio show last month to make his first public statements regarding the Ben Simmons saga since Sixers media day, the executive mentioned that this controversial situation could play out for four years if it had to.
Simmons, who requested a trade following last year's disappointing playoff run, made it clear he planned to do whatever it takes to force Philly's hand. Unfortunately, he doesn't have much leverage in the situation.
Not only does Simmons have several years left on his contract, but he loses money almost every time he skips a practice or a game. While there has been some cooperation from Simmons' end, it's been reported that the disgruntled All-Star has been doing the bare minimum to collaborate with the Sixers as he continues to desire a trade.
Is Simmons' big move coming anytime soon? It doesn't seem so. Earlier this week, Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that trade talks are currently paused. As Daryl Morey wants an All-Star caliber player in return for Simmons, he hasn't quite received an offer worth his time right now.
Some might think that as time passes and Simmons remains off the floor, taking up a roster spot, Morey will eventually crack and wash his hands of the situation. However, Sam Amick of The Athletic offered some insight on the situation, proving that theory to be wildly incorrect as Morey is seriously preparing to play the long game.
"A source with knowledge of the list said there are approximately 30 players who would satisfy the Sixers in a Simmons swap, and there’s an internal belief that a fair amount of them — let’s say five to 10 — could become available in the next year or two. And while it might sound like a long list, consider this much: It’s approximately six percent of the league and the rough equivalent to the number of All-Stars selected every season. The framing of the timeline, more than anything else, speaks volumes about the long-term approach the Sixers insist they’re taking.
“This is like a multi-year thing,” a Sixers source said."
Per Amick, Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard is somewhere around the top of said list, which shouldn't come as a surprise. So is Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal. But as Lillard remains loyal to Portland and Beal's Wizards are shockingly thriving this season, those two won't be on a flight to Philly for a change of scenery anytime soon.
Does that automatically rule out a deal getting done this year? Not exactly. With somewhere around 28 other players on the list, a couple are bound to become available at some point as the 2021-2022 season plays out.
Considering the Simmons saga has been going on since the summertime, it feels like the situation has been dragging out for years at this point. However, Daryl Morey and the Sixers are just getting started as a lot can change within the first few months of the new basketball year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.