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Sixers resume fining Ben Simmons as the stalemate continues

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Philadelphia 76ers Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Ben Simmons situation continues.

The 2021 runner up for Defensive Player of the Year has been out of the lineup after sharing with the team a couple weeks ago that he doesn’t feel mentally ready to play. The team has offered their support and resources to the former first overall pick out of LSU. The Melbourne native was reportedly dealing with back tightness as well, an issue that has mostly resolved after treatment with team staff.

The team has resumed fining Simmons, a source confirms to Liberty Ballers. ESPN Insider Adrian Wojnarowski was the first to report the news.

Per Woj:

“The Philadelphia 76ers fined All-Star guard Ben Simmons his $360,000 game salary for missing Thursday night’s victory over the Detroit Pistons and plan to continue fining him until he cooperates with team physicians on his mental health issues and fulfills other basketball-related obligations, sources told ESPN on Friday.”

This is an especially tricky situation for all parties. Simmons wants to be traded. He was once reportedly willing to holdout in order to get what he wants. There appeared to be some sort of shift in dynamic when his unwillingness to play morphed into a lack of readiness.

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported back on Oct. 19 that “Simmons is not against playing, but he is not mentally ready yet, sources insist.”

That begged the question, would he be willing to play for Philadelphia when he was ready?

It made sense that while Simmons was seeking treatment for his mental health, the team stopped fining him. So, what changed?

According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Woj, reporting earlier this week, Simmons has been receiving treatment from “mental health professionals via the National Basketball Players Association since the summer.” The same report suggests the team is frustrated, feeling kept out of the loop on the player’s treatment protocol.

Per ESPN:

“The Sixers remain eager to help Simmons address his mental readiness so he can return to the team. There’s uncertainty whether he’s progressing with that same objective, sources said.

Sources close to Simmons told ESPN they expect to provide the team with updates on his progress once he is comfortable doing so.

The Sixers fined Simmons nearly $2 million for missing games, practices and meetings earlier this season. But sources said the team stopped fining him once he told them on Oct. 22, that he wasn’t mentally ready to play.”

So, to recap:

Simmons asked for a trade. The Sixers did not find one they liked and indicated no real interest in trading him. Simmons missed team events and the Sixers began to fine him. Then Ben confided to team leadership and teammates he was not mentally ready to play and so the team stopped fining him. They want to help their star do whatever it takes return to their lineup. Simmons continued to seek help away from the team but hasn’t provided details on that process; at least not to a degree the team feels comfortable with. It’s apparent the Sixers don’t need him to work with their own mental health practitioners. But they want an open line of communication on what treatment he’s receiving and general updates about how that’s going.

The lack of communication from Simmons’ camp has led the team to resume fining the three-time All-Star. In the meantime the Sixers have the best record in the East at 7-2. The team has been fun, competing hard and winning some games many expected them to lose. It’s a testament to the players that they’ve been able to focus on the task at hand during this situation.

Daryl Morey, Elton Brand and the rest of the team’s brass certainly have their hands full here. It’s an ugly situation. But somehow the team keeps stacking wins in the meantime.