Sixers Coach Doc Rivers Reveals He Is in Contact With AWOL Star

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

No player in the NBA has been the subject of more watercooler discussions than what Ben Simmons has over the last few months.

Following the Philadelphia 76ers subpar ending to the 2020-21 NBA playoffs, where Simmons famously passed up an open dunk in the surprising loss to the Hawks, the jury has been out on the star guard’s fit alongside Joel Embiid.

We all know the story by now. Simmons took some time away during the offseason, then refused to return for training camp. Eventually, the playmaker extraordinaire returned to Philadelphia, presumably to continue getting paid, before removing himself from game-day selections due to mental health issues.

And we’ve been stuck in a weird loop ever since. Of course, if the rhetoric coming from Simmons’ camp is to be believed, it’s unlikely we ever see the All-Star guard suit up for the Sixers again. But the downside to Simmons’ current plight is that his trade value diminishes every week he’s not on the floor. Expecting Daryl Morey to accept a subpar trade offer for one of his most talented young players in the league is also a fool’s errand, and so, we remain at a deadlock.

At least until Morey or Simmons decide to blink, in what is fast becoming the longest staring match of all time.

Doc Rivers Has Recently Spoke to Simmons

It’s no secret that Doc Rivers and the Sixers organization would prefer to add Simmons back to their rotations rather than lose a homegrown talent known for his defense and playmaking skills.

Veteran head coach Doc Rivers has been down this road before and has learned lessons along the way. As such, it’s no surprise that Rivers is giving Simmons a wide berth. Yet, in what might come as a surprise to some, the Sixers head coach recently revealed that’s he has been in contact with the wantaway star recently.

“He’s doing good. And, yes, I have talked to him recently,” Rivers said.

As you would expect, the following line of questioning leaned heavily on the possibility of a Simmons return. “That’s the stuff that I’ve intentionally stayed out of. I have enough on my plate. I don’t feel like I’ve needed to add that,” Rivers explained.

Simmons has yet to play for the Sixers this season, and despite the pleas of both the coaching and playing staff, the situation doesn’t look any closer to being resolved than it did when he returned to Philadelphia at the start of the season.

Sixers Want ‘Top-25’ Player in Any Trade for Simmons

For anyone who has followed Morey’s front-office career, they will be confident in the knowledge that he’s no slouch when it comes to standoffs and trade discussions. This is the man who continually retooled the Houston Rockets at the behest of James Harden.

And now, Morey has a new task at hand — find a resolution to the Simmons saga, one way or another. According to ESPN’S Adrian Wojnarowski, Morey is open to the notion of trading Simmons, should the return see the Sixers graced with a “Top-25 player” in return.

Of course, wanting a high-end NBA talent in return for Simmons makes sense on paper, but with each passing week of inactivity, Morey’s asking price looks further and further from the mark.

Perhaps that’s why Morey strayed from his asking price ever-so-slightly when rumors of a potential trade for Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics surfaced? Or maybe Morey was simply doing his due diligence and gauging the trade market as the trade deadline draws closer.

The most obvious way to resolve the deadlock between player and front office would be for Simmons to return to basketball activities, remind teams what he’s capable of, and allow Morey to work his magic around the trade deadline. Alas, the current saga shows no signs of ending, which means Rivers will likely have many more awkward conversations with a star player who will undoubtedly remain unavailable until a trade has been finalized.

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