SOURCEAfter the meetings, Brown told reporters during a press conference that he expected Simmons to spend “intense time” with Townsend over the offseason. Everyone around the team was excited. They felt like a breakthrough had occurred, that Simmons was ready not only to solidify his improvements at the line but also to begin carrying those changes over into his shooting overall. 

After exit meetings, the players and coaches went their separate ways to recharge. Some time passed and, according to multiple league sources, when Townsend returned to the team’s facility Brown pulled him aside. Change of plans, he said.

Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, and family had decided that he’d be better off working with one of his brothers, Liam, a former low-level Division I guard and assistant coach, who now coaches at D-2 Colorado Christian University. 

Brown, who’d been promoted to interim GM in the wake of former team president Bryan Colangelo’s Twitter scandal, wasn’t sure the reason for the change. It also didn’t matter. 

Simmons was a former No. 1 pick, one of the team’s two foundational pieces, a genuine superstar, in talent and branding, in a league where superstars dictate the terms. In other words: Simmons wasn’t required to explain himself to management. 

Rich Paul has to go to bed with a retainer and he is one of the most powerful people in sports. He gets food stuck in his braces and his influence knows no bounds in the NBA. The man has to schedule orthodontist appointments around lunch meetings at Nobu with NBA executives. Now him and Ben’s brother might be the reason why Ben Simmons shot the worst free throw % in NBA playoff history. John Townsend is basketball’s Tom Emanski.

How can you watch that after school special and not think John Townsend would have Ben Simmons shooting 50% from 3 and 80% from the line in one off-season? Shooting the ball straight? Check. Eliminating left AND right misses? Check. Gimmicky wrist equipment with a cheesy name like the “Straight Shooter” not included, but can be yours for an extra $9.99? Check.

Two days after that 2018 loss to the Celtics, the Sixers held exit meetings in their Camden, N.J., training facility. Each player was given a four-page document containing individualized offseason plans. For Simmons the list of priorities included free-throw shooting, finishing at the rim and developing a jump shot. In that order. 

Do you think at Ben’s exit meeting today they had a packet on hand from the 2018 meeting and just handed it to Ben wondering if he’d notice it was the same one from 3 years ago. Kinda like how Jamarcus Russell got that DVD of plays that was blank and told his coaches he thought they were all great the next day.

We can’t even check off “finishing at the rim” anymore after last night.

This article was the first time I feel like everything about Ben Simmons people have said over the years is housed in one place. He’ll never shoot because he’s not comfortable and doesn’t want to look bad. He cares a lot about his perception and surrounding himself with family and his management team which can sometimes be a negative because you have a bunch of “yes men” around you. And he doesn’t think he has to shoot. Not even if he’s wide open. That’s because he doesn’t have the confidence in himself to shoot. He’s broken and he admitted it to Sixers staffers.

Simmons told multiple Sixers staffers that, because he was a poor shooter, he figured the team would be better off with him trying to drive and kick.

If Ben practices as hard as people say he does and he still can’t shoot than everything with Ben is mental and he can’t overcome it. So what are we waiting for? Everyone already said bye to him last night.