Sixers’ Ben Simmons Makes Key Summer Decision: Report

Ben Simmons

Getty Sixers All-Star Ben Simmons thought his team played soft against Miami.

It’s official. Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons will not play for Team Australia in the Tokyo Olympics, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. The Aussie star was rumored to be sitting out after he failed to show up last week for a pre-Olympic camp in Los Angeles.

The expectation has been that Simmons will stay in Philly and work on his “individual development” (read: free-throw shooting) this summer with Sixers head coach Doc Rivers. The 24-year-old shot 34.2% from the charity stripe in the playoffs, the worst mark in NBA history.

Simmons’ psyche appears cracked and the Sixers’ coaching staff has been tasked with fixing it unless the organization decides to trade him in the offseason. His future remains very much up in the air.

“Obviously what Ben just went through, I can’t imagine that. Because he has so much greatness in all the things around him that he does,” Rivers told reporters last week. “There are areas that he can fix, quickly, in my opinion, and get better, that will take him to another level. Sometimes you don’t know why you’re in different places, you know what I mean? But this may be one of them. I look at this as a great challenge, but definitely a doable one.”

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Former Sixer Comments on Shooting Woes

Everyone seems to have an opinion on how to fix Simmons’ shot these days. His old high school coach thinks he needs a “shot quota” to prevent his arm from opening up. Others think the Sixers just need to stop babying their three-time All-Star. Or maybe a move to Miami would solve his problems.

Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell was the backup behind Simmons for three years in Philly so he knows a thing or two about him. McConnell agreed that Simmons does need to shoot the ball more but he’s not the reason the Sixers lost in the playoffs. His positives far outweigh the negatives.

“Does he need to shoot more? Sure, but he’s not, to me, the single reason they lost, and I really feel bad for him,” McConnell told The Old Man and the Three podcast with JJ Redick. “After having a front-row seat watching Ben, he defies gravity, physics, and all the above. Like you sit there and you’re like, ‘This guy’s incredible the way he’s able to see the floor.’ Out in transition, in my personal opinion, he’s one of the hardest guys to stop in the entire league.”

Simmons: ‘Control What I Can Control’

No one has heard from Simmons publicly since the Sixers were bounced by the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semifinals. He scored only five points on four shots in that crucial Game 7. After the game, a somber Simmons sounded like he needed a vacation. Maybe a mental retreat. Sixers fans were literally chanting “Trade Ben Simmons” as he walked off the court at Wells Fargo Center.

“It’s not easy to win and it shows,” Simmons said at the time. “I work. So the first thing I’m gonna do is clear my mind and get my mental right.”

Now it’s time to get in the gym and put in the work, something both Simmons and Rivers seem committed to doing this summer.

“I’m gonna do what I gotta do and work on my game to better,” Simmons said. “That’s not my focus right now. It’s about Game 7. Never let the highs get too high and the lows get too low. For me, it’s more work, get my mind right, and get my body right for next season. Control what I can control.”

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