The Philadelphia 76ers didn’t make any big moves at the trade deadline. While they swapped out Matisse Thybulle for Jalen McDaniels, Philly didn’t do anything close to the trade they made at the deadline last year, when they turned Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and draft capital into James Harden and Paul Millsap in a move with the Brooklyn Nets.
That continuity has played a big role in the Sixers’ success this year, as the team is 39-13 and three games out of the 1-seed in the Eastern Conference. Harden, of course, has been excellent for them this year, but as Georges Niang explained during a radio hit on Friday morning, Simmons no longer being around has had a big impact on the team.
Well Georges Niang did not hold back when he joined @975JKShow ! “Ben Simmons kinda handicapped us” pic.twitter.com/bLxDggtAa4
— 975TheFanatic (@975TheFanatic) February 24, 2023
As Niang went on to explain, Simmons not playing for the team despite being on a max contract meant that the front office had to figure out “where other role players have to step up and replace the passing, dribbling, rebounding, defense.” He also pointed out how difficult it was for the locker room to have no idea if Simmons would come back and join them at any point during the year.
“The team aspect is very important,” Niang said. “I think Doc Rivers does a good job buying into the team. So, when you don’t know who you’re gonna have, night in and night out, is he coming back? Is he this? I feel like the updates we were getting about him was, like, when I’d turn on my TV, I was listening to Stephen A. Smith. ‘He’s gonna be at practice tomorrow,’ and I was like, ‘Well, there he isn’t.’
“So, last year was difficult because you didn’t know who you had,” he continued. “And then the trade deadline’s coming up, and everybody’s walking in like, ‘Well, who’s being attached to him that’s going?’ So it’s just like, you had that uneasy feeling. Now it’s like, alright, yes, we did trade Matisse and we got Jalen, but you know who you’re going into war with every single night. And I feel comfortable with the pieces that we have, because we do have some great players in this locker room.”