Mannix and Beck dive into the evolving Ben Simmons situation in Philadelphia, Portland’s role in it, plus reactions to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Mannix’s Paul Pierce story, the NBA’s dipping its toe into Mexico City and more.
Chris Mannix: We should begin with Simmons, because that seems to be the topic du jour at the moment as we are weeks away from Ben Simmons maybe, possibly reporting to training camp, at the latest. It does certainly seem like Ben Simmons wants out of Philadelphia. It does seem like the Sixers want to find a new home for him, but they understand that just giving him away doesn't bring them any closer to a championship. And Daryl Morey, one of the biggest star hunters out there, has to keep his eye on some of these teams that may elect to tear it down before the end of next season. So, you know, the latest came out of the Philadelphia Inquirer a week or so back, affirming that Simmons wanted out. What do you make of where we stand with Simmons?
Howard Beck: So earlier this summer, I was firmly of the belief that there was no way Simmons would be on the opening-night roster or even the training camp opening-day roster of the Sixers, because too much has happened, too much has been said, too much has been alluded to. It's clear they want to move him; it's clear that he wants to be moved.
So that's just way too much tension to bring with you to the first day of training camp and have everybody there asking, “So Ben, how do you feel about being here? How long are you going to be here?” Or in the event of the—I still think unlikely—holdout scenario—we don't really do holdouts in the NBA, but, he doesn't show up or maybe if given permission not to show up. That's still hanging over the franchise. You’re now missing your second-best player with no replacement ready to just take up all those responsibilities. And every single day you’re going to have people like us asking, “So, Ben Simmons ... traded yet? No? How are you feeling about that, Joel? How do you feel about your championship prospects?” Like, that’s way too much, and I still think that there’s an urgency to get this done. But it’s hard for us to say as we sit here a couple of weeks out from training camps opening, that it will be resolved in part because Daryl Morey is clearly holding out for a ransom, as he should be, by the way. I’ll defend him holding out for a ransom. Even if you think he’s overshooting. That's how the game is played, you over-ask and eventually, you hopefully get what you’re looking for. So I don't buy this idea that like, Oh, he’s asking for too much and that's why they can’t make a deal. If they had a decent deal in hand, I think they would make it.
But I think there’s something else going on here, Chris, and this is just speculatively pulling pieces together. Usually, if you’ve got a star who you want to trade and who wants to be traded. You gin up the market, leverage everybody against each other, you get the best deal you can and you move on with your life. This is the only case I can think of where the reason potentially for the holdup is there’s a really, really great deal to be made if only Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard would actually demand out. And maybe what’s happening is, if you’re Daryl Morey, I could get some combination of some players and some picks and stuff and be fine. But what if I do that now and then suddenly three weeks into November the Blazers are 2–10 or something and Dame says, “Yep, it’s time, let’s go.” If you’ve already spent your Ben Simmons chip—the best chip in the NBA right now—and then Lillard or maybe Beal become available, you screwed yourself.
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