By Jerry Wein
Yesterday’s red-hot rumor was that the Celts were interested in Sixers crybaby Ben Simmons, who has not played for the 76ers this season and the three-time All-Star has told the team on multiple occasions he wants to be traded.
It’s likely the Sixers leaked the information reported in The Athletic about Jaylen Brown being a must in any Simmons deal to drive up trade value. Simmons has three years left on his contract after this season totaling $113 million, so acquiring him is a major commitment that would have cap ramifications for years.
The team began fining Simmons for not reporting to camp, and then when he reported and offered a lackluster effort in practice, he was kicked out of the session by coach Doc Rivers.
Simmons told the team he was not mentally prepared to play and is apparently seeing a team of mental health professionals of his choice while the 76ers wait for him to return.
Daryl Morey said any trade could be a long process because they want multiple starting-caliber or All-Star players in return. The Celtics are likely to have to include Jaylen Brown in any deal for Simmons and that risk is far too high.
The Celtics, like many other teams, would be interested in Simmons at a reasonable price, despite some red flags. Simmons has never developed his half-court game or free throw shooting, reaching a low point during last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals when a fearful Simmons passed up a dunk late in Game 7because he seemingly wanted to avoid going to the line.
Any team that acquires Simmons would understand his offensive deficiencies. They would want Simmons for his defensive skillset and ability to play point guard and distribute. He is 6-foot-11, a masterful ballhandler, and can be a matchup nightmare — but that’s when he’s engaged and playing well. That wasn’t the case during the 76ers’ disappointing playoff elimination by the Atlanta Hawks.