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Opinion

NBA Week: Celtics would be great fit as time running out for Big Ben to redeem reputation

Ben Simmons during his time at the Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Expert
12th November, 2021
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Ben Simmons needs to do whatever is necessary to get traded to Boston to salvage his career and his reputation.

Reports emerged this week that the Celtics “have engaged in conversations” with Philadelphia about potentially doing a deal for Simmons, who has not played at all this season as his saga has dragged on with Sixers management.

Very early days and this deal is more likely to not get done than for it to happen.

Ultimately, whether a trade happens will be in the hands of Sixers GM Daryl Morey and his Celtics counterpart Brad Stevens but if there’s anything Simmons or his agents at Klutch Sports can do to make it happen, then they should be changing their recent policy and actually helping.

Australian fans are a forgiving bunch but if Simmons continues to appear sullen and someone who only cares about himself, he will enter Nick Kyrgios territory as someone who gets little sympathy from the wider sporting public for their entitled antics.

After again passing up the chance to play for the Boomers at the Olympics in the last off-season to work on his game/sit in the stands at Wimbledon, he’s getting close to using up his last chance at redeeming his reputation with hoops fans Down Under.

There’s only so many times you can say you’re going to spend the off-season honing your shooting craft then not doing it on the court.

Aussie basketball star Ben Simmons with the Philadelphia 76ers.

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Whether it’s a mental barrier or shooting mechanics, he needs to at least make attempts from outside the paint this season even if his percentages are low – you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

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His image and trade value have plummeted since he passed up an open dunk to dish the ball to Matisse Thybulle in game seven of the Eastern Conference semi-finals upset loss to Atlanta.

He’s made it clear he doesn’t want to be there anymore and the 76ers did likewise, then trying to back-track and welcome him back into the fold.

The vision of a sulking Simmons barely participating in practice, with mobile phone in pocket, led to him declaring he was not mentally ready to suit up for the team indefinitely.

Then there has been the impasse between player and team about what treatment he is receiving to get mentally prepared for a return to the court.

Anyone with mental health issues should be given all the time they need to get themselves in a place where they can be back to their best but the 76ers are perfectly entitled to ask Simmons exactly what he is doing in order for that to happen.

If a player had a bad back, which Simmons also claimed to have had, and received treatment for that issue away from the team medicos, there would be an expectation that the franchise would be involved in that process or at the very least kept up to date.

The Celtics (5-6) have been under-achievers to start the season and the common belief is that their two young stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown cannot form the nucleus of a title contender because they are both isolation heavy, jump shooters who are reluctant to distribute to teammates.

Philadelphia will want Brown in a trade for Simmons but such is the Australian star’s low trade value despite being under contract for three more years, they would surely have to attach a first-round pick or two, or young talent, perhaps his fellow Boomers defensive specialist in Thybulle.

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A Simmons-Tatum tandem would be ideal for the Celtics.

They would have a playmaker, which they’ve sorely lacked, who can defend multiple positions and be happy to let Tatum shine as the lead scorer.

Brown would also be a great fit as a wing scorer alongside All Star centre Joel Embiid at the Sixers although they’d still need to address their lack of potency at point guard.

For Big Ben’s sake, hopefully the time has come to leave Philadelphia and fulfil his potential of becoming the greatest Australian basketballer of all time.

Ben Simmons

Ben Simmons (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Keep your eyes on …
The Wizards – that’s not a typo. Washington have become not only a fun team to watch but are winning – they’re 8-4 to sit atop the Eastern Conference.

Turning John Wall’s albatross contract into Russell Westbrook and then a bunch of solid Lakers role players has proved a masterstroke with Kyle Kuzma one of the most improved players in the NBA to give Bradley Beal much-needed support.

Trade talk in Minnesota – Karl-Anthony Towns is the equal of Anthony Davis in shooting and scoring dominance, it’s just that his defence is nowhere near the Lakers star’s prowess.

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The Timberwolves are off to another dreadful start at 3-6, they have their next franchise star in Anthony Edwards, it wouldn’t be a great surprise to see Towns out of the city at some stage this season and Wolves fans won’t be too sad if his mate D’Angelo Russell hits the road too.

Josh Giddey and the OKC Thunder – They were tipped to win around a dozen games this season and they’re already 4-6. Giddey’s passing has been eye-catching, his shooting is improving and his athleticism is better than expected.

The Thunder took heat for taking him with the No.6 pick but the early returns suggest that he is in with a very good chance of making First Team All Rookie.

Josh Giddey for OKC

Josh Giddey. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

Flagrant foul: WTF Moment of the Week
The Nikola Jokic versus Markieff Morris on-court skirmish was a nasty one and had the potential to be malicious so the referees did well to separate the Denver and Miami teams before things got truly ugly.

Jokic was banned a game but Morris and Jimmy Butler for his on-court threats should have also copped a suspension, not just a hefty fine.

Boomshakalaka! Quote of the Week
Which brings us to the quote of the week – the Morris twins, Markieff and Marcus, have a reputation of being tough hombres but they may be biting off more than they can chew if they run into Nikola Jokic’s brothers, Nemanja and Strahinja.

The towering Serb siblings created a Twitter account @Jokicbrothers to let the Morris twins know they’ve got their brother’s back.

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“You should leave this the way it is instead of publicly threatening our brother!Your brother made a dirty play first. If you want to make a step further be sure we will be waiting for you !! Jokic Brothers

They have reportedly bought tickets for the Nuggets’ trip to Miami at the end of the month. Let’s hope security is tight on the night.

Out of the box scores: Stat of the Week
Josh Giddey is leading the NBA in assists among rookies at 6.2 per game, well clear of Sacramento’s Davion Mitchell in second at 3.8.

Giddey is also third in rebounds despite being a guard (a tall one at that) with 6.7, steals at 1.4 and blocks (0.6). He’s ninth in points at 9.8 and fourth in turnovers at 2.7 but overall these numbers add up to a very impressive start to his career.

Weekend must-watch
Saturday – Bulls @ Warriors, 2pm AEDT (ESPN)

The scary thing for the rest of the league is that Golden State can take their time with Klay Thompson’s return from injury and ease him back into the line-up whenever it suits in the coming weeks. Chicago have been impressive in the first month of the season but chasing victory in the Chase Center is no easy feat.

Sunday – Heat @ Jazz, 9am AEDT (SBS)
These teams played out one of the games of the season thus far last weekend with Miami eking out a 118-115 thriller on the back of the NBA’s Most Improved Player frontrunner Tyler Herro. Utah fans hold grudges, the Heat will be in for a hot reception.

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