Ben Simmons has been suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team,” the Philadelphia 76ers announced in a statement. The disgruntled star will miss the season opener. After that, who knows.
Simmons was supposed to address the Philadelphia media after practice on Tuesday, October 19. As reporters were waiting to talk to him, Sixers PR broke the news in an email. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the three-time All-Star was kicked out of practice following a dispute with Doc Rivers.
The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey added that Simmons was sent home for “not being engaged.” Immediately, people began to draw parallels to the Terrell Owens situation with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005, in which Owens was displeased with his contract and was suspended after several disciplinary violations. The Eagles eventually waived Owens.
The Sixers released the following statement and made no reference of the incident:
“Ben Simmons has been suspended for one game due to conduct detrimental to the team. As a result, Simmons will miss the 76ers’ season opener at New Orleans tomorrow night.”
The news came one day after a video went viral showing Simmons casually participating in defensive drills, with a cell phone hanging out of his sweatpants. He was also seen skipping the team huddle after practice ended.
Rivers was asked specifically about what looked like a lack of commitment from Simmons on the floor. Would that translate into chemistry issues down the line? Rivers didn’t think so.
“It’ll grow,” Rivers told reporters on Monday, October 18. “It’ll come back. I’m not that concerned, right now, with it. They are interchanging, it’s coming, and it just takes time. Chemistry is huge, and I think overall our chemistry is phenomenal right now and we want to keep it going.”
Sixers’ Doc Rivers Sounds off on Ben Simmons
On Tuesday, though, that changed. Rivers was open and honest when addressing the situation with Simmons following practice, and seemed to acknowledge that the many lingering issues between team and player may not be resolved.
“I don’t know,” Rivers said when asked whether the issues would linger. “Every day, every single moment, I am going to give Ben a chance to join the team and be part of the team. He’s under contract to be part of the team. Sometimes, it happens quick and guys join back in and sometimes it doesn’t. I’ve been in both situations. I’m fine with that. But at the end of the day, as a coach, I have to protect the team. The team first, and then we will get to the other part.”
As ESPN’s Tim Bontemps cited, the Sixers coach said Simmons was “a distraction today” and believed the 25-year-old didn’t want “to do what everyone else was doing” at practice.
Simmons opted to return to the Sixers ahead of the season, but there have been numerous questions and concerns about how much game action he’d see and what type of impact he’d make. The Sixers and Simmons still appear to be close to parting ways as the team attempts to trade the young guard/forward.
Joel Embiid Appears To Be Over the Ben Simmons Drama
Sixers star Joel Embiid spoke with the media shortly after Doc Rivers did, and the center didn’t pull punches along the way either. As Kyle Neubeck of The Philly Voice revealed, Embiid unloaded numerous thoughts on Simmons, including stating that he doesn’t care about it at this point.
Embiid dropped a heavy one-liner as well on the topic, stating that “our job is not to babysit somebody,” per Neubeck.
A few other noteworthy comments which Embiid made during his time with the media included citing that he gets “paid to deliver” and that the “guys who are here are willing to help me, and I’m willing to help them.”
Simmons remains under contract through 2025 and is set to make north of $33 million this season, per Spotrac. The question becomes whether he’ll continue on with the Sixers this year, or when what appears to be a likely trade will come for the 3-time NBA All-Star.