Despite numerous rumors that suggested LeBron James would be headed to the Philadelphia 76ers in free agency, the four-time NBA MVP ultimately chose the Los Angeles Lakers, signing a four-year contract to join a young team on the rise. Like the Lakers, the 76ers have a number of young talents who have made a big impact in the league so far, and one of these budding stars, 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons, recently opened up on a number of topics, including James’ decision to choose the Lakers over the Sixers and other teams.
In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Simmons said that the Sixers are in a good place despite missing out on James and not making too many significant changes in the offseason. However, CBS Sports quoted Simmons as telling the U.K. publication that it hurts “a little bit” that the 33-year-old superstar forward chose not to sign with Philadelphia despite hinting that he was considering joining the Sixers.
“[It’s] a little bit [disappointing],” said Simmons.
“At the same time, he did the right thing for him and his family. But it would’ve been great to learn from him, him being on the team and obviously competing for a championship. But we have pieces to get there.”
Out in Melbourne, @BenSimmons25 has been immortalized in a mural ????
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) August 18, 2018
As noted by CBS Sports, the possibility of LeBron James joining Ben Simmons and the rest of the Philadelphia 76ers was one of the more interesting storylines this summer as the NBA’s top free agents weighed their options. With rookie averages of 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 8.2 assists, the Australian newcomer had an instant impact on the Sixers, regularly starting at point guard despite being as tall (6-foot-10) as an average NBA power forward. While mainly used at both forward positions, James has occasionally played point guard and has compiled similarly well-rounded career averages of 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.2 assists.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers appear to be focusing on maintaining the same core lineup that won 16 straight games late in the 2017-18 NBA season and made it all the way to the Eastern Conference semifinals after six consecutive losing campaigns. With the Sixers retaining their starting lineup of Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick, Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid, the team used the current offseason to bolster its bench, acquiring forwards Wilson Chandler from the Denver Nuggets and Mike Muscala from the Atlanta Hawks. The team is also hoping for a solid sophomore campaign from 2017 first overall draft pick Markelle Fultz, who missed all but 14 games in his rookie year due to injuries.