Ben Simmons hasn’t exactly been a player who kills the Celtics, particularly when it matters, but his seemingly impending departure from the Philadelphia 76ers undoubtedly will resonate in Boston.
Simmons reportedly does not intend to report to 76ers training camp and has been steadfast in his desire to never play another game for Philly. The 76ers can try all they want to keep him, but it sounds like that ultimately would be a poor use of time and energy.
Because the 76ers still appear to be firmly in win-now mode, it’s probably unlikely they would trade him to a contending team in the Eastern Conference. That’s good news for the Celtics, who would have to deal with the three-time All-Star less frequently if he’s shipped to the Western Conference.
The problem, however, is the package the 76ers receive in return actually could negatively impact the Celtics. Because the C’s historically have handled Simmons well, the 76ers netting a high-end player in the deal — which they all but certainly will — could make life more challenging for Boston than Simmons just staying put.
The impact Philadelphia’s return has on Boston really can’t be overstated. The 76ers’ reported asks for Simmons have been absurd (more on those here), but if they get even a fraction of what they want, they could land a player who causes trouble for Boston. That’s what the Celtics should be most fearful of.
A begrudging Simmons somehow relenting and playing for the 76ers (who appear to have their doubts about him) probably won’t impact the Celtics much, but Philly acquiring, say, its reported ask of the Toronto Raptors would.
The best-case scenario for the Celtics would be for this process to drag out as long as possible. It would create a ton of drama for a team that has been mired in such for what feels like years, while also keeping a valuable player off the floor. The longer this drags out, the longer the Sixers are stuck in limbo.
It’s for that reason Philly would be well-advised to quickly find a suitor. But if the Sixers are hellbent on a team meeting their asking price, then that might significantly lengthen the process.
So, Green Teamers, pray for drama.