Over five years ago, it seemed the relationship between the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons would last for a long time. After spending just one season at LSU, Simmons decided to take his talents to basketball’s highest level.
Going into the 2016 NBA Draft, Simmons was the consensus top pick. The Philadelphia 76ers, looking to reverse the “The Process” and start winning games, were equipped with the first-overall pick the year Simmons landed in the draft pool.
With the top pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, the Sixers landed Simmons and hoped he would become the face of the franchise alongside their 2014 fourth-overall pick, Joel Embiid.
Despite missing the 2016-2017 season due to an injury, Simmons made an immediate impact in 2017. After earning Rookie of the Year honors, Simmons picked up his first All-Star nod during his sophomore effort. After the 2018-2019 season, the Sixers looked to lock Simmons in with a max extension.
Although it seemed Simmons was in Philly for the long haul, the narrative changed following the 2020-2021 season. After a disappointing showing in the second round of the 2021 playoffs, Simmons requested a trade.
Considering he still had four years left on his deal, Simmons lacked leverage. However, he still committed to a hold-out and would never suit up for the Sixers in 2021-2022. Eventually, the three-time All-Star was granted his wish to be traded and moved to the Brooklyn Nets in February.
Following the trade, Simmons was working on a return so he could make his Brooklyn debut. Unfortunately, a sudden back injury derailed his progress. Therefore, when the Sixers and the Nets met for the fourth and final time in March of 2021, Simmons was a non-participant.
Currently, Simmons is expected to make his Nets debut at the beginning of the 2022-2023 season. And if he remains healthy, the star guard is scheduled to make his return to the court in South Philly on November 22, which marks the first matchup between the Sixers and the Nets at the Wells Fargo Center next season.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for All76ers, a Sports Illustrated channel. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.