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The Philadelphia 76ers are reportedly taking a hard line with the Kings and other teams in trade talks over Ben Simmons, whose value around the league has been hotly debated following his recent playoff struggles.
Sources told Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice the 76ers have “put a high sticker price” on Simmons and feel no pressure to trade him unless the right opportunity arises. One source said the 76ers will not entertain a discussion with the Kings unless it involves De’Aaron Fox, the dynamic 23-year-old point guard who signed a five-year, $163 million extension with Sacramento in November.
“Philadelphia’s messaging has remained consistent when other teams have reached out in search of a potential deal,” the website reported. “They are not coming to the table at all if the offer doesn’t reflect his status as an ultra-productive, multiple-time All-Star, and the team believes internally they can fix at least some of his on-court issues in the event that he remains a core piece.”
Simmons, 25, is a three-time All-Star, two-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection and former Rookie of the Year. The 76ers only find themselves in this staring contest because Simmons’ bizarre shooting struggles were so badly exposed in the playoffs, where he bricked 48 of his 73 free-throw attempts, shooting just 34.2%. He was held to five points in a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, leading coach Doc Rivers and center Joel Embiid to openly wonder if they can win a championship with Simmons at point guard.
Last week The Sacramento Bee confirmed the Kings had expressed interest in Simmons, but they are not willing to part with Fox, who averaged a career-high 25.2 points and 7.2 assists last season. The Kings still might be able to get involved in a three-team trade — maybe even one that sends Damian Lillard to Philadelphia and brings Simmons to Sacramento — but that depends on what the Portland Trail Blazers decide to do.
There has been widespread speculation over a hypothetical deal that would send Buddy Hield, Marvin Bagley III and future first-round draft picks to Philadelphia in exchange for Simmons, but the 76ers seem to be making it clear that won’t be enough.
“Internally, team sources view a lot of the reported offers floated around the league as transparent attempts to lower Simmons’ trade value below where it actually is,” PhillyVoice reported. “The Sixers are uninterested in packages returning multiple role players and picks in exchange for Simmons, according to a source familiar with the situation. As one specific example, a source told PhillyVoice the Sixers would not even entertain a discussion with the Sacramento Kings save for the inclusion of guard De’Aaron Fox in a potential deal, which they view simply as a starting point for talks.”