Sixers are handling the Ben Simmons situation perfectly

Daryl Morey | Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Daryl Morey | Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

It may not look pretty, but GM Daryl Morey is offering a masterclass in how to manage a crisis. The Sixers could easily have made knee-jerk reactions throughout the Ben Simmons saga that would have taken the quagmire from bad to worse.

Instead, Morey took the big picture view and the situation appears on the mend. 

So far, the Sixers have handled the Ben Simmons drama with both tact and strategy.

First, Morey won the staring contest with Klutch Sports superagent Rich Paul. Somehow, Paul got it into Ben’s mind that asking out of Philly and throwing a tantrum offered his best option. Ben followed the advice of his high-priced agent and declared war on the City of Brotherly Love. He even took shots at Philadelphia’s most popular figure in years, teammate Joel Embiid.

Morey never gave in to Ben’s demand. Daryl knows that in the modern NBA, he must pair Embiid with another superstar to win a championship. Trading for role players or merely good players will not take the Sixers to the promised land. The Ben trade represents the Sixers best, and perhaps only, chance to bring in a superstar during Embiid’s prime. Morey wisely passed on the lesser offers, holding out for a superstar.

Second, the Sixers regained leverage in the standoff by fining Ben for not reporting and not playing in preseason games. The Sixers cleverly put Ben’s salary in an escrow account, an old NFL tactic, and drew the fines from the account. Ben’s camp even expressed their surprise at the size of the Sixers’ fines. Less than two weeks later, Ben returned to Philly.

Third, when Ben declared he was not yet “mentally ready” to play for the team, the Sixers’ brass could easily have piled on like many fans did. They could have accused Ben of faking and continued to fine him. In an age of increasing awareness of mental illness, such a reaction would have appeared heartless and draconian. Recruiting free agents to Philadelphia would have become near-impossible.

Instead, the team took Ben’s plea seriously, as they should. They offered Ben mental help, stopped fining him, and helped him practice alone. After being kicked out of practice weeks ago, Ben now regularly comes in to practice and is even working on his shooting!

It seems possible, maybe even likely, that Ben will return to team practices someday and play in a game. By playing in games, he has the chance to rehabilitate his trade value, helping the Sixers trade him for a superstar, and simultaneously giving Ben what he wants: a fresh start. Win-win.

Since the end of last season, Morey has deftly navigated the Sixers through icy waters. At times, the situation appeared unsalvageable, that Ben and Klutch would get their way, and The Process would die. Now, the Sixers have more leverage over the situation than they ever had before. They regained leverage without appearing heartless or insensitive to mental health issues. The crisis has now become an opportunity.

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