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Ben Simmons became the 76ers’ scapegoat as soon as they lost to the Hawks.

Joel Embiid – Philadelphia’s franchise playerthrew Simmons under the bus. 76ers coach Doc Rivers – who voraciously praised Simmons all season – said he didn’t know whether Simmons could be the starting point guard on a championship team. Philadelphia fans said far harsher things.

Simmons might wonder whether the 76ers want him anymore.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Paul engaged the Sixers on whether it makes sense to work together to find a trade before the start of next season, but no request was made and the sides are expected to continue talking ahead of the July 29 NBA draft and August free agency, sources said. The 76ers are committed to keeping Simmons as a central piece of their franchise, sources said.

I don’t believe the 76ers are committed to keeping Simmons. They just said they wouldn’t trade him then offered him in a package for James Harden. This is what 76ers president Daryl Morey does. He lies publicly to downplay tension then sometimes trades a player, anyway.

That doesn’t mean Philadelphia will trade Simmons, though.

He remains a very good overall player. He rebounds, gets the team into transition and makes sharp passes. His defense is versatile and effective.

Most importantly, his trade value has sunk after these playoffs. People are judging him at his nadir. His contract (four years, $146,684,160 remaining) is viewed negatively.

Keeping Simmons and hoping he improves isn’t the worst outcome. He’s just 24.

But Simmons’ shooting and scoring flaws become especially pronounced deeper in the playoffs. He and Embiid are far from an ideal fit. Embiid is ready to win on that level, and with his health issues, there’s no telling how long his prime lasts.

The 76ers should absolutely explore trading Simmons – whether he requests it or not.

Whether they should actually make a deal depends on the offers they get.

More on the 76ers

NBA Playoffs Schedule 2021: Dates, times, odds, where to watch Rivers says he has plan, isn’t giving up on Simmons. Is plan to change… NBA second-round playoff-series MVPs

Report: Ben Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, broaches trade with 76ers originally appeared on