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Could Ben Simmons’ saga overshadow an expected MVP-caliber campaign from Joel Embiid? | Off the Dribble

Doc Rivers and Daryl Morey will meet with reporters Monday, and they’ll get plenty of questions about Simmons and his trade demand.

Sixers center Joel Embiid waits as teammate Ben Simmons shoots a free throw during warm-ups before a playoff game at Atlanta in June.
Sixers center Joel Embiid waits as teammate Ben Simmons shoots a free throw during warm-ups before a playoff game at Atlanta in June.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

What’s poppin’?

Happy Monday, folks. This might be one of the most anticipated days in recent 76ers’ history. That’s because Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and coach Doc Rivers will begin media day with a joint news conference. The majority of their questions will be about Ben Simmons’ refusal to play for the team again and when or if the Sixers will trade the disgruntled point guard.

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What about Joel Embiid?

Simmons’ saga has overshadowed what’s expected to be an MVP-contending campaign for Joel Embiid.

Embiid, a four-time All-Star, appears to be in great shape and no longer hampered by the small lateral meniscus tear in his right knee that sidelined him in Game 5 of the first-round playoff series against the Washington Wizards. That could cause problems for opponents and make him an early favorite to win the 2022 MVP award.

Embiid averaged 28.5 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.4 blocks last season to finish second to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić in MVP voting. Missing 21 of the 72 regular-season games had a hand in Embiid not winning the award. The Nuggets’ big man averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists while playing in all 72 regular-season games.

Starting five

I wrote about Ben Simmons’ stalemate with the Sixers continuing into training camp. Who will blink first?

I also wrote about Simmons turning away a request from his teammates to meet in Los Angeles. They were instructed not to fly to Los Angeles because he did not want to meet with them.

Gina Mizell wrote about training camp story lines to watch, including Simmons’ holdout and Joel Embiid’s next step.

Marcus Hayes says Simmons is making this saga all about himself. Hayes says the selfishness, self-aggrandizement, and lack of self-awareness is simply staggering.

David Murphy wrote that Simmons should be ashamed of what he is making Doc Rivers and the Sixers do. Murphy says rather than owning up to the doubts that he created with his postseason performance, Simmons is trying to slink out of town while forcing his coach to deny the undeniable.

Zion Williamson unhappy in New Orleans

Apparently, Ben Simmons isn’t the only high-profile NBA player unhappy with his team. According to reports, New Orleans Pelicans All-Star Zion Williamson and team executive vice president David Griffin have somewhat of a strained relationship.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported last week that Williamson’s annoyance with Griffin partly stems from the way his minutes were capped during his rookie campaign and personality conflicts.

That came after a report by The Athletic earlier this summer detailed Williamson’s family members dissatisfaction with the Pelicans’ direction.

Important dates

Oct. 4: Sixers at Toronto Raptors, 7 p.m. (preseason)

Oct. 7: Raptors at Sixers, 7 p.m., (preseason)

Oct. 11: Brooklyn Nets at Sixers, 8 p.m. (preseason)

Oct. 15: Sixers at Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m. (preseason)

Oct. 20: Sixers at New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m.

Passing the rock

Send questions by email or on Twitter (@PompeyOnSixers)

Question: Would it not be best for the Sixers to make the best possible deal now and put this issue behind us? I understand the concept of getting the most value for Simmons, but the longer this goes on, the bigger shadow it casts. With each day the shadow grows larger and darker. — Christopher McKeon (@mckeon3801) on Twitter

Answer: Thanks for the question, Christopher. I agree with you, even though Simmons’ trade value is low at this time. Right now, this saga is a full-blown circus and will continue to be a distraction as long he remains on the roster. I actually think the Sixers backed themselves into a corner by overvaluing him this summer. Like you said, the longer this goes on, the bigger shadow this will cast.