Danny Green was talking about coming back to complete “unfinished business” in Philadelphia when the topic switched to Ben Simmons. Green has been keeping tabs on all the trade rumors, but the veteran wing doesn’t know for sure if Simmons will be his teammate in 2021.
He hasn’t heard from the Sixers’ starting point guard since the Fourth of July weekend. It hasn’t been due to a lack of effort. Green sent a few text messages to him that went unanswered, although part of that has to do with Simmons being more of a FaceTime guy than a texter.
Green was also intentionally trying to give the three-time All-Star his space as he looks to heal “mentally and emotionally.” Sometimes players need time to breathe and digest everything going on. He’ll reach back out in the coming weeks.
“It depends on the teammate, it depends on the person,” Green told reporters on Thursday. “I think with Ben the right move was to give him some space early on. It’s not about him healing physically, it’s more about him healing mentally and emotionally to where he can refresh himself, reset, and come in and re-identify himself.”
But does Simmons intend to “re-identify” himself back in Philly? A new report suggests he may sit out Sixers’ training camp barring a trade. And while Green has no insight on Simmons’ current mindset, the idea of any player being traded — let alone a 25-year-old All-Star in the prime of his career — isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe he’ll feel the Brotherly Love in another city.
“People look at it like a bad thing being traded. I look at it like a positive, another team wants you,” Green said. “It’s an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself or re-identify yourself, and maybe that’s why you hear the rumors of him wanting to go somewhere else. Maybe he felt like he couldn’t reinvent himself here [in Philly], he can do it better in another city. But that’s not always true, you can do it in the city you play in, you can come back as a totally different player.”
Does he want to reinvent himself? The answer to that question lies somewhere between him not dunking in Game 7 and swishing jumpers with his trainer. Nobody knows which version is the real Ben Simmons.
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Green ‘Hopeful’ Simmons Returns
Make no mistake, Green fully understands that the Sixers are a better team with Simmons in the starting five. And he’s hopeful the whole band will be back together soon. That’s one reason he decided to re-up for two more years at $20 million.
“For me, it’s always been a priority to be on a winning team, to be on a contender,” Green said. “And Philly’s always been that and we have a great shot, a great opportunity if we bring everybody back. I think we still have a great opportunity and that was the No. 1 [thing].”
The three-time champion had other offers in free agency. Dwight Howard recruited Green to the Los Angeles Lakers. George Hill wanted him to go to the Milwaukee Bucks. He even “briefly” flirted with the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets. However, the market evaporated for 34-year-old. It was down to a sign-and-trade situation or a veteran minimum deal. Green sided with stability.
“Not a fan of being part of the super-team type deal,” Green said. “I prefer being the underdog than the favorite.”
Green was unwilling to endure a rebuild and when he looked at the Sixers’ roster — with or without Simmons — he saw a city (Philadelphia) he was comfortable playing in and a system (Doc Rivers) he could thrive in. It didn’t hurt that Tobias Harris put the full-court press on for him to return.
“Tobias was calling me nonstop,” Green said. “We communicated throughout the process to see what’s going on. He would see something and say ‘I can’t lose you to that team.'”
Wedding Bells Ringing This Weekend
Green plans to marry his fiance Blair Bashen this weekend. The two have been dating for six years and the couple has been putting the finishing touches on the wedding this week. That’s another reason why it’s been so hard to connect with Simmons or anyone else for that matter.
“I had free agency and the wedding,” Green said. “I didn’t know where I was gonna be at.”
The 2021-22 campaign will mark the first time in almost four years that Green will be staying in the same city. He has been on three different teams (Raptors, Lakers, Sixers) since leaving the San Antonio Spurs after the 2017-18 season. He was tired of living out of a suitcase, especially with a wedding on deck. Besides, Green and the Sixers have “unfinished business” to take care of.
“I believe if I was healthy things might have been different [last season], we definitely have some unfinished business,” Green said. “But it’s always been a priority for me to win wherever I go and I feel like we have a good chance to do that [in Philly].”