Andrew Bogut has called for Philadelphia to bite the bullet and trade Ben Simmons as the ugly divorce threatens to drag on for years.
Australian basketball great Andrew Bogut has called for the Philadelphia 76ers to bite the bullet and offload Ben Simmons before things turn even nastier.
The souring relationship between the 25-year-old and his NBA franchise has dominated headlines for several months and threatens to drag on deep into the 2021/22 season.
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Simmons skipped the entire pre-season after he was heavily criticised for the team’s Eastern Conference playoffs elimination, as coach Doc Rivers and All-Star teammate Joel Embiid called his performances into question.
Simmons made it clear in the off-season he wants to be traded away from the 76ers, despite having four years and $200 million remaining on his contract, but a suitable trade has yet not been found.
Last month, Philadelphia general manager Daryl Morey warned the saga could drag on for four years.
“Would you rather eliminate what people perceive to be a distraction, or would you rather have better playoff odds? I’ll take playoff odds,” he told 975 The Fanatic.
“Whatever we have to deal with that helps the Philadelphia 76ers win the title, we’ll do it.”
Speaking to SEN Breakfast this week, Bogut rubbished Morey’s remarks, saying he “doesn’t believe” the team is OK with the saga going on for years.
“The further it goes, the worse it gets for both parties to be honest,” Bogut said.
“The closer they get to trade deadline, his value gets lower and lower because once the trade deadline (February 10) passes, then what are they going to do?
“Philly’s trying to push for a playoff, potential championship run — Joel Embiid’s not getting any younger. They can arguably flip him for someone that can help them get over the line to that championship right now.
“Daryl Morey, the GM, is posturing that if he has to keep him (Simmons) for four years, he will. I don’t believe that for a second.
“And then on the flip side, Ben needs to play basketball. He has not played an NBA game for six months, and it could end up being a year if he doesn’t get traded.”
Simmons eventually ended his off-season exile and returned to Philadelphia but was then kicked out of practice, suspended and fined. That was until the Aussie said he was suffering from mental health issues, at which point the Sixers offered him support and reinstated his salary.
That changed again when Simmons was reportedly fined $487,000 for missing last week’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
At the heart of the unpleasant situation is suggestions from some within the team that Simmons is either faking his mental health condition — or the team is acting with absolute disrespect towards a player who needs help.
On Wednesday, NBA legend Charles Barkley labelled Simmons a “jerk” over his messy divorce with the 76ers.
The 58-year-old said on TNT’s Inside the NBA it was time for the Sixers to “kick his a**”.
“This dude has done everything he can to not to be re-recruited,” Barkley said.
“They started off the season begging him to come back. So they have massaged him.
“They wanted to go see him. He said, ‘Don’t come see me’. He came and then he acted like a jerk in practice. They wanted him back. Then, because he wanted to get paid, he came back and, as I said, he started acting like a jerk and they kicked him out.
“They gave him another chance. They said, ‘OK, you said you’ve got some issues’. He said, ‘No, I don’t want to see your guys’. They started fining him again. Now he’s back.
“They’ve bent over backwards to kiss this dude’s a**. Now they’ve started kicking his a**. There’s only two. You kiss somebody’s a** or you kick somebody’s a**. It’s time to kick his a**.”
Meanwhile, the Sixers’ treatment of Simmons has been branded “unconscionable” by senior ESPN reporter Brian Windhorst.
The veteran journalist said he “can’t believe” how the team has acted in devaluing him as a player and person.
“I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen a player more devalued by his own team than Ben Simmons and it goes on to this day,” Windhorst told Sportsnet’s Eric Smith and Paul Jones earlier this week.
“What they’ve done since then has been unconscionable, the way they’ve devalued him. And I just don’t understand why a guy like (76ers basketball boss) Daryl Morey, who’s one of the smartest guys in the league, would condone the over and over and over devaluing of this guy.
“It’s not admirable (Simmons trying to get out of his contract early), we can all see that. But the stuff that they (the 76ers) have done to him and now basically questioning whether or not he has mental health problems — that’s essentially what they’re saying, they’re basically calling him a faker — I just can’t believe they’ve behaved this way.
“Forget about what it is on an individual, personal basis — it’s just bad business.”