Now that the 2021 NBA free agency has finally wound down, and we’re just a few weeks away from the start of training camps, we can finally start looking ahead to the upcoming NBA season. Coming off an offseason in which they have been oddly quiet and haven’t made many roster upgrades, the Philadelphia 76ers remain a huge question mark in the Eastern Conference.
Last season, the 76ers were the number one team in the Eastern Conference, topping the favorites Brooklyn Nets and future champions Milwaukee Bucks, but were upset by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs in surprising fashion. The deficiencies in the roster became clearer during that series, and after Ben Simmons’ potential dunk turned into “The Pass”, his future with the franchise wasn’t guaranteed.
Ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, the Philadelphia 76ers haven’t made many moves in the offseason. The team signed Andre Drummond to a one-year, veteran’s minimum deal as a replacement for Dwight Howard, who returned to the Lakers, and Georges Nian to a two-year, $6.7 million deal, as an upgrade to Mike Scott in the backup stretch four role. The 76ers also re-signed Danny Green to a two-year, $20 million deal, in a very team-friendly contract, and signed Joel Embiid to a four-year, supermax extension.
Even if Ben Simmons departs the organization, the 76ers still have a strong starting unit to do some damage in the Eastern Conference. Without any major improvements, however, this roster isn’t capable of putting up a fight against stronger outfits like the Brooklyn Nets or the Milwaukee Bucks. Now that Simmons made clear his desire to leave Philadelphia, it’s imperative that the front office works a deal to capitalize on a trade that would significantly improve their chances in the playoffs.
Despite all that, the Philadelphia 76ers remain one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and reach the 2022 NBA Finals. And with the Pennsylvania online gambling market fully regulated, fans in the state can already start placing bets on the 76ers, as they are at +700 odds to win the conference. However, their chances at a title aren’t that great, as the team is at +1800 odds to win the NBA Championship.
Simmons wants out
According to Kevin Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Ben Simmons’ tenure with the 76ers is close to an ending. “In a meeting with the 76ers last week in Los Angeles, Simmons told team co-managing partner Josh Harris, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand, and coach Doc Rivers that he no longer wants to remain a Sixer,” reports Pompey. “The four told Simmons they wanted him to report to the start of training camp on September 28 and be a part of the team.”
But the possibility remains of Simmons not showing for training camp. And the Sixers’ inability to find a suitable deal is largely due to Morey demanding too much from interested teams. The belief around the league is the Sixers are waiting for point guard Damian Lillard to request a trade from Portland. Lillard, however, has already stated that he has no interest in leaving the Trail Blazers now. Another option would be CJ McCollum, in a trade that would make sense for both teams.
Embiid on a new contract
In early August, the 76ers announced they had reached an agreement with Joel Embiid on a new contract extension, reported to be a four-year, $196 million supermax extension, making him only the 8th NBA player to receive a supermax deal.
The deal locks up Embiid, who became eligible for a supermax contract after earning second-team All-NBA honors last season, through the 2026-27 season and is fully guaranteed. With that much money involved, the 76ers are clearly relying on Embiid remaining healthy during this contract.
“There’s no place like PHILADELPHIA!” Embiid said on social media. “Excited to continue working towards bringing a title home and eventually retire here.”
There’s also a rumor that the relationship between Simmons and Joel Embiid had turned sour, and that would be one of the main reasons behind his request. But Embiid took it to Twitter to rebuff these reports. “Stop using my name to push people’s agendas. I love and hate drama. I love playing with Ben. Stats don’t lie. He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t get the job done. It’s on me personally. I hope everyone is back, cause we know we’re good enough to win,” Embiid posted to his Twitter account.