NBA Insider Reveals New Financial Wrinkle in Ben Simmons Saga

Ben Simmons

Getty Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons is scared to play in front of Philly fans, according to a new report.

Ben Simmons is no longer being fined by the Philadelphia 76ers for missing practices or games, per ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne. The plugged-in reporter revealed the newest wrinkle in the ongoing saga during a recent appearance on “NBA Today.”

Simmons told the team he is dealing with “mental issues” and NBA contracts protect players in those situations from financial penalties. The three-time All-Star met with teammates and coaches last week and informed them of his illness. The organization, including Joel Embiid, vowed to support their “brother.” Simmons is also working through a back injury.

Sixers president Daryl Morey recently stated that “things are moving in a positive direction” regarding a reconciliation with Simmons. They fully expect to get the star point guard back in the starting five this season. Meanwhile, Shelburne explained why the team has stopped fining Simmons:

They’ve stopped fining him. Some of this is because there’s a standard provision in player contracts that says if you’re dealing with a mental health issue — which Ben Simmons has reported to the team that he is, and he wants to work on himself mentally and physically this week. They’ve taken that in good faith, and said ‘OK, we’re taking that that you are working on yourself mentally and physically.’

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Andre Drummond Listed Questionable

The Sixers may be without their backup center for a second straight game. A sprained right ankle kept the 6-foot-10 big man out of their 115-103 win over Oklahoma City. Now he’s listed questionable for their matchup with the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Embiid is dealing with a knee issue, but expected to play.

If Drummond can’t go, the team will be forced to throw smaller lineups out on the floor. Georges Niang saw 20 minutes the other night, with Paul Reed picking up nine minutes of burn. Rookie center Charles Bassey is another option in a pinch. Remember, Drummond was brought in to spell Embiid with the second unit. He’s embraced that role at every turn.

“I’m here to win, that’s why they brought me here to help this team in whatever way I can,” Drummond told reporters, via Sixers Wire. “Whether it’s to start when Joel needs a break or just to come off the bench and give a spark to our second unit. It’s a role I’ve embraced and it’s been very fun.”

Grant Riller (knee) and Shake Milton (ankle) remain out. The projected starting five includes Embiid, Danny Green, Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey.

Morey Still Expects Simmons to Play

Morey reiterated his optimism of a happy reunion with Simmons. He told Amy Fadool of NBC Sports Philadelphia that he “absolutely” expects Simmons to wear a Sixers uniform this season. The two sides are talking through their issues and the plan is to wait as long as it takes to get him mentally focused.

“Absolutely yeah, we’re taking it day by day getting Ben what he needs,” Morey told Fadool. “He’ll probably be doing individual workouts while he works through this and working through everything that we can help him with and hope to get him back out there as soon as he’s ready.”

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