While everything has been fun on the court this season for the Philadelphia 76ers, the thing holding people back from falling fully head-over-heels for this Sixers team continues to be how the Ben Simmons situation will resolve. Every time fans let their guard down and try to enjoy actual basketball, another off-the-court report emerges to annoy the general populace.
Today, in Shams Charania’s Inside Pass column for The Athletic, Charania offered some reporting on where things currently stand with Simmons. Here are some noteworthy items from the article:
“The 76ers have become increasingly irritated with Simmons’ lack of providing further clarity on the matter to them and have threatened to return to their daily fines for events that the organization feels he is not participating in, such as games, practices, shootarounds and strength and conditioning workouts.
Multiple sources have told The Athletic that Simmons has provided the organization with the names of each of his mental health professionals. The franchise has access to Simmons’ mental health professionals, but those professionals are not able to provide further information to the 76ers without Simmons’ consent due to patient confidentiality. So far, Philadelphia does not have a mental health doctor on its staff with whom Simmons is comfortable, sources say. Simmons is allowed the ability to seek treatment from outside the 76ers’ physicians for mental assistance.
The 76ers feel they should be given more details about Simmons’ treatment plans, process and return timeframe. Team officials say they have sought a good faith effort from Simmons to help understand his return to action process, not the specifics of his mental health guidance, but claim that has not happened. Simmons, meanwhile, is not obligated to share details of his work with mental wellness professionals.
The National Basketball Players Association has supported Simmons throughout this process, and one NBPA source told The Athletic that as long as Simmons has provided his team with the basic information regarding mental health professionals with whom he’s seeking help, Philadelphia should not have grounds for salary withholding.”
Here, we get some further clarity on why the Sixers resumed fining Simmons, something that was reported a few days ago by Adrian Wojnarowski. The team wants a specific return-to-action process and some sort of timeframe. Personally, I’m not sure how realistic a request that is to make of someone within the mental health arena. Those things can’t be rushed, and it’s not a like a physical injury where you can designate a four-to-six week timetable and move forward. If the team knows who Simmons is meeting with and can confirm that he is going to meetings regularly and working towards bettering himself, however long that may take, I’m not sure they can ask much more of the player.
“The team fined Simmons last week for a shootaround at which he was present but was asked by Rivers not to participate unless he was active, sources said. Simmons has yet to play five-on-five and no plans to return to action were communicated by either side after he stated that he’s not mentally ready to play.
Since that telltale Oct. 22 meeting with Rivers and his teammates, sources say that Simmons has been engaged around the team in the facility and at home shootarounds. He has been conducting one-on-none workouts, participating in intense shooting drills with teammate Tyrese Maxey and receiving back treatment from the training staff. Simmons is also receiving help from mental health professionals, a process he began during the offseason, according to sources.”
Although Charania’s wording makes it seem like Simmons was fined despite being present at shootaround, you may recall from Woj’s report last week that the fining was related to failures to “participate in other requirements, such as strength training, film study, and some presence at team practices and game-day shootarounds.” A source subsequently confirmed to Liberty Ballers that refusal to do anything beyond individual workouts.
“The Boston Celtics have engaged in conversations with the 76ers revolving around Simmons and expressed interest in the 6-foot-11 guard, sources tell The Athletic. Talks have been fluid with no traction as of yet, those sources say. Any potential Simmons deal with the Celtics would have to include All-Star forward Jaylen Brown, an ascending talent who is in the midst of another career season, averaging 25.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists.
The Celtics are off to a 4-6 start, winning two recent games against Miami and Orlando before losing to Dallas Saturday night. President of basketball operations Brad Stevens admitted to NBC Sports Boston that the organization is “going to find out” if it has the right group of players.”
This item is particularly juicy for Sixers fans. While Jaylen Brown is probably a short tier below pipe-dream trade targets like Damian Lillard and Bradley Beal, he likely represents far-and-away the best potential option in a Simmons return package, given how much Ben’s stock has plummeted and the loss of leverage the Sixers have experienced since last season ended. I have a hard time believing Boston would really trade Brown for Simmons, but there’s no denying the Celtics are in a fair bit of turmoil of their own. Marcus Smart recently publicly called out teammates Brown and Jayson Tatum for not passing enough. You know who (in)famously loves to pass? Ben Simmons! It’s a match made in heaven. Fingers crossed that these two sides find some traction.