The Toronto Raptors have watched one of their principal rivals, the reigning Atlantic Division champions in the Philadelphia 76ers, end up saddled with one of the most radioactive contracts in the game in Ben Simmons.
While he has elite defensive skills and several All-Star nods, he melted down in the postseason due to his inability to shoot on offense.
Simmons has been essentially cutting ties with the 76ers this offseason, with comments from head coach Doc Rivers about his ability to contribute to a winning team cutting him deep. Simmons is trying to make the breakup official by refusing to ever put on red, white, and blue again.
Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons will not report for the opening of training camp next week, which is a sign that he intends to never play for this team again. Simmons reportedly hasn’t spoken to anyone from that organization in weeks.
The Raptors may owe Simmons a thank-you card in the mail, as not only has he managed to completely tank his own trade value by failing to improve on offense, but with Simmons willing to sit out in order to get his way, the 76ers could be forced into accepting a lesser deal to get something of value for him. Daryl Morey’s leverage is all but gone.
The Toronto Raptors could benefit from the Ben Simmons drama.
Simmons is not a bad player, but he is a declining asset due to his offensive play in the postseason.
The Sixers not only have to convince rival teams, who may be worried about a scoring liability with an insane contract that pays him nine figures over the next few seasons, that Simmons is worth trading for, but now they are negotiating from a position of weakness considering that he seems more than willing to sit games out to get his way.
The Raptors may not be able to overtake the Sixers in the standings this year, but this could come in handy when they match up head-to-head. The 76ers will likely play either without Simmons in the lineup due to a holdout or with a substandard return that could upset the chemistry in the rotation.
Safe to say, this is not what 76ers fans had in mind when the offseason began.
The Raptors were, at one point, considered a potential destination for Simmons. While he could improve in Toronto, and while his price has gone down, it would be very likely for Masai Ujiri and the front office to overhaul the roster at this point in the season.
Between this and Simmons’ alleged preference to head to one of the California-based teams, you can check another destination off of the ledger for Simmons. The 76ers could be stuck in between a rock and a hard place for the next few weeks.