Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey saw what happened Tuesday just like the rest of the world. He knows that 76ers guard/forward Ben Simmons refused to fully participate in practice and was asked to leave by coach Doc Rivers. He knows that center Joel Embiid is on the record expressing his exasperation with Simmons. Morey actually has more knowledge than any of us on how damaged Simmons’ relationship with the 76ers is, because, you know, he works there.
Still, Morey is not budging. After Tuesday’s nuclear meltdown, and Simmons reportedly not taking part in an individual workout that was scheduled on Thursday because of back tightness, Morey went on the radio in Philadelphia and didn’t draw a line in the sand, he took a shovel and dug out a moat.
On Mike Missanelli’s 97.5 The Fanatic show, Morey said that he is only getting offered role players for Simmons at the moment and that fans should “buckle in.” He also said that “this [process] could take four years,” the number of years remaining on Simmons’ contract.
As far as content goes, this is the perfect response. Player sulks and is uncooperative, then management gets in front of a microphone to publicly declare that if and when the decision is made to trade said player, it will be done when management deems it most beneficial to the franchise. Management will not be pushed around by a sulking player, especially one who has four years remaining on a five-year extension. It’s even a good business strategy to try to preserve value for a player that has been sinking it for the last four months.
However, for the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team, which just won its season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans (sans forward Zion Williamson), this was unnecessary bravado. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that he expects to see Simmons at a shootaround Friday morning to discuss his future.
There was no need for Morey to say anything and especially no need to allow a drive-time radio show to make an announcement that you will be appearing live so all of sports media can listen and disseminate your comments instantly. Then he makes incendiary comments like, “this could take four years.”
The team is tired of this. That’s why Rivers threw Simmons out of practice, and why Embiid not only dismissed Simmons, but made the point to mention that the chemistry on the team has been optimal. Clearly Morey didn’t learn the lesson from his Hong Kong tweets that what he says affects more than simply himself or his agenda. This keeps the story even more in the news going into tomorrow’s game and gives the media a fresh load of questions to ask Rivers, Embiid and the rest of the team. In team sports, no one likes distractions, and Morey just made himself one.
This all could’ve been done quietly. Morey could’ve kept turning down trades, or at worst, just leaked that the 76ers are not changing their position. Instead he did an entire radio interview to show that tough guy Daryl Morey is not going to be pushed around.
Well, Daryl, you made your point — and I’m sure the players who hold your job security in their hands appreciate the way that you went about doing it.