The family reunion between Ben Simmons and the Sixers has reached a climax. The disgruntled point guard has arrived in Philadelphia and plans to report to camp, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Simmons could join the team any day now.
He showed up to the Wells Fargo Center unannounced, per Wojnarowski. His agent dropped Sixers general manager Elton Brand a terse text message: “Hey, Ben’s outside the building.” The team was hosting the Brooklyn Nets in a preseason contest at the time. Whether the three-time All-Star actually suits up for the Sixers remains to be seen.
The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey reported that Simmons has no intention of playing a game in Philly. He even put his home in Moorestown, NJ on sale, per Pompey. Simmons might be just showing up to save face and act professionally until a trade is worked out.
Doc Rivers addressed the issue before and after the Sixers-Nets game on October 11. The savvy head coach seemed to confirm that talks were indeed progressing with Simmons’ agent (Rich Paul), but he didn’t want to comment on specifics. Rivers joked that he was going to call Wojnarowski to find out what was going on (via Tom Moore).
“We’d love to have him back. Other than that, honestly, there’s nothing to report,” Rivers told reporters. ” Our position hasn’t changed at all. I’m not gonna talk about what Rich and I have talked about, but clearly that’s what we want.”
The Sixers open the regular season on October 20 on the road against the New Orleans Pelicans. The home opener at Wells Fargo Center is slated for October 22 versus the Brooklyn Nets. Rivers ventured a guess that Simmons would be ready to go by then.
“We’ve been around this before, haven’t we? We really have, in different ways,” Rivers said, “and my guess is when, if he comes he will be ready to play.”
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Angry Fans, Upset Teammates
One of the main reasons Simmons was staying away was due to a fear of being booed by the fans. He vowed to never set foot in the Wells Fargo Center again, per ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, or play in front of the Philly faithful. His feelings were too hurt.
The thin-skinned Aussie also made disparaging remarks about his teammates, including Joel Embiid who called the whole situation “borderline kinda disrespectful.” Again, Rivers didn’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth but he thinks the locker room would forgive him.
“They want to win, and they look at Ben as a guy who can help them win,” Rivers said. “Players don’t get involved with people’s business.”
Sixers Beat Nets in Preseason Action
The Sixers beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-104 to improve their preseason record to 2-1. Embiid only played eight minutes but it was a dominating first-quarter stretch where he sored 14 points. They jumped out to a 12-point advantage and never looked back. Furkan Korkmaz put in a team-high 27 points, with Isaiah Joe notching 20 points and Andre Drummond adding 16 points.
Joe started at point guard since Shake Milton was out with a sprained ankle. Tyrese Maxey was a last-minute scratch with what the team termed “adductor tightness” in his knee. The Sixers played the game without a true starting point guard.
“We’re going to focus on who’s here,” Rivers said on September 27. “We’re going to build our team out to who’s here right now, with hopes that we do have Ben at some point. But right now that can’t be our focus. I can only touch the people who are in front of me.”