The Philadelphia 76ers may have been at the front seat in two of the most unceremonious team exits by a star in recent years, but it seems like one of those ugly iterations morphing into an unprecedented homecoming is within the realm of possibility.
One party thinks so, at least.
Ben Simmons, who infamously forced his way out of Philadelphia by holding out an entire season prior to an eventual switcheroo for similar-fated James Harden, is apparently not cutting all ties to the 76ers just yet despite all that has transpired.
Ben Simmons would welcome a trade back to the Philadelphia 76ers
In an exclusive interview with Andscape (affiliated with ESPN), Simmons laid bare his years in Philly, doubling down on his deep connection with the city notwithstanding his fracture with the franchise — a connection so visceral that he thinks not all is lost between both parties.
"I’ll always have love for Philly. People always ask me like, ‘If you were to get traded again where you want it to be?’ I always say, ‘Just Philly. Philly is a second home to me."
Simmons’ love for the city comes naturally given that the franchise gave him the leeway to become a fearsome force at his best and succeed early on. His tenure with the team may be more synonymous with his exit, but there’s zero doubt that he was one of the pillars that brought Philadelphia back to the general consciousness.
That being said, while Simmons’ endearment with the franchise should be well-appreciated, the prospect of him being traded back to the 76ers at this point ranges from a negative value to sheer zero.
Not only has irreversible damage been inflicted, but there’s no basketball-related reason to even entertain the thought of welcoming Simmons back. Philly’s brass has clearly pivoted to Joel Embiid as the main fulcrum of how the organization operates, and tossing the Aussie back as a running mate is counterintuitive both on and off the court.
Instead, the 76ers still have the in-house talent to win a bunch even if Harden fidgets with his disappearing act. Heck, the front office is very likely to find better pieces if they want to venture out and seek external help through trades.
Nevertheless, hopefully, Ben Simmons manages to regain his mojo after a couple of down years and finds success with the Brooklyn Nets. But if his bounce-back happens elsewhere, don’t bank on it being in Philadelphia, despite the surprisingly cordial sentiments.