It appears Ben Simmons might not be traded this summer because Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers wants him back for the 2021-22 campaign.
“Ben’s great,” Rivers told TMZ Sports in an interview released Saturday. “I want him back. He’s terrific. He’ll be great. I think he doesn’t need a lot of fixing. He’s gonna be great for us. He’ll be great.”
Simmons failed to make an impact over the final three games of Philadelphia’s series against the Atlanta Hawks, scoring just 19 total points, which ignited trade speculation. After the Sixers were eliminated, Rivers raised eyebrows with his response to a question about whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team.
“I don’t know the answer to that right now,” he told reporters.
However, Rivers expressed confidence the next day that the Sixers could fix Simmons’ scoring issues.
The 24-year-old has been one of the NBA’s most productive two-way players since being drafted first overall in 2016. He averaged 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists during the regular season. On top of that, he was named to the NBA All-Defensive first team for the second consecutive season.
Some of Simmons’ biggest issues, however, come at the free-throw line, where he’s a career 59.7% shooter. He’s also attempted just 34 threes over four seasons, making five of those shots.
While Rivers is hoping Simmons will stick around, the Sixers front office might feel differently. According to Bleacher Report’s Jason Dumas, Philly has “fielded offers” for Simmons and recently turned down an offer from the Indiana Pacers that included Malcolm Brogdon and a first-round pick.
If the Sixers end up holding onto Simmons, the franchise will likely build its roster around Joel Embiid and him, searching for upgrades in other areas. For now, this will be a story to keep an eye on this summer.