Unsurprisingly, Ben Simmons’ return to the Sixers hasn’t been pretty. As you’d expect, Simmons has been uninterested in playing/practicing with the team while he waits to be traded, and Tuesday’s practice provided more drama.
Simmons was originally supposed to speak with reporters at practice for the first time since the Sixers’ 2021 playoff run came to an end, yet he made no such appearance. He was also thrown out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers due to his disinterest in taking part, and has been suspended for one game by the Sixers due to “conduct detrimental to the team.”
Since his surprise return on October 11, Simmons hasn’t appeared in any preseason games and has racked up various absences, punctuated by his removal from Tuesday’s practice. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has confirmed that as a result, Simmons has not earned any money since reporting to the team.
ESPN Sources: The 76ers have fined Ben Simmons $1.4M for his absence from four preseason games (360K each) and levied numerous team fines for missed practices, on-court workouts and meetings. He hasn’t earned any money since returning to the team on October 11.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 19, 2021
Wojnarowski added that Simmons declined to sub into a practice drill “several times,” before he was ultimately thrown out of Tuesday’s session.
When speaking with reporters after practice, Doc Rivers explained why he felt he needed to remove Simmons.
“I just thought he was a distraction today,” Rivers said. “I didn’t think he wanted to do what everybody else was doing. It was early. It wasn’t a big deal. I just told him he should leave then, and we went on with practice.”
(Our Paul Hudrick has more coverage from practice here.)
Shortly after practice and media availability came to a close, Wojnarowski also reported that the Sixers aren’t budging in their position when it comes to trading Simmons. Throughout this entire saga, Daryl Morey and the front office have remained patient in waiting for a trade that helps their chances to contend, and that isn’t changing.
Sixers' approach on a trade has remained steadfast: They won't move Simmons for role players -- only a player who'll help keep them a championship contender. That hasn't changed. For now, no one should expect a speedy resolution on Simmons' future in Philadelphia. https://t.co/YUdkseUZOo— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 19, 2021
Maybe due to the uncomfortable distraction of Simmons, the possibility of having a rough stretch of games without his help, or just a combination of everything, this situation will worsen to the point where the Sixers feel more pressed to make a trade. Until further notice, though, they aren’t going to let Simmons and his camp rush them into anything.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer reported last week that a trade is far more likely from late December onwards. This was always a strong possibility anyway, seeing as more players who signed free agency deals this offseason can be traded after December 15, which would help in a three-team trade with more moving pieces and salaries to match. The Sixers maintaining their patient stance should be expected.
“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Joel Embiid said after Tuesday’s practice when asked about Simmons. “He does whatever he wants. That’s not my job. That’s [the front office’s job]. I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, try to lead the guys that are here, and I’m sure they feel the same way. Our chemistry has been excellent despite everything else that happened the last few months. So like I said, I don’t really care.”
As this situation continues and questions about Simmons persist, it’s completely understandable that Embiid feels this way. His honesty is refreshing, and as he’s said before, he’s focused on the winning and “the guys that are here.”
For now, the Sixers will remain as focused as possible with their players who are actually active, and finish preparing for their 2021-22 season opener on Wednesday evening against the New Orleans Pelicans.