NBA Rumor: Philadelphia 76ers Turmoil?

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Scotto: Over the years, anytime I talked to people either around them or the league, it seemed like they coexisted, but they certainly weren’t close. Pompey: I don’t think it was any different than most top two or three draft picks who were franchise players trying to coexist earlier in their careers. They had distinct personalities. Joel was more of a homebody. Ben is more of a guy, who’s a tall, good-looking dude, who dresses well, all the women love him, and he likes going out and having a good time. That factored into it as well. It’s no different than most teams when two guys want to be the man.

A sports fan who phoned into a Philadelphia radio station was so focused on complaining about estranged 76ers star Ben Simmons that he shrugged off getting hit by a car while on the air. (Hear the audio below.) “James” was patched through when he was asked, “What’s on your mind?” “Uh, nothing, someone just hit my car,” he replied. The incredulous Angelo Cataldi and the Morning Team on 94WIP wanted confirmation that the caller had been in an accident. “Yeah, and they’re driving off,” James said. “It’s OK.” The hosts encouraged James to get a license plate number while James let them know the other driver “swerved into my lane.” “Anyway, I’m calling about Ben Simmons,” he said, unperturbed. “You just got in a car accident and you’re calling about Ben Simmons?” “Yeah,” James replied, “because he annoys me more than someone hitting my car and driving off.”

Celtics legend Paul Pierce, who played under Rivers in Boston and later with the Los Angeles Clippers, weighed in on the drama surrounding Simmons and the 76ers this week during an appearance on CLNS Media’s “The Cedric Maxwell Podcast.” “If Doc kick you out of practice, that’s bad because I ain’t never seen (that),” Pierce said. “I think I’ve seen Doc kick someone out maybe once. Like Doc ain’t gonna kick you out for nothing, you know what I’m saying? You really gotta be an asshоle for Doc to kick you out of practice, ’cause Doc’s one of the coolest coaches. He understands the player. “And so I don’t know if that relationship can be mended back together. I feel like it’s so far gone.”

Daryl Morey on Ben Simmons: Things moving in a positive direction

Daryl Morey: Ben came in at the end of last week and said he had back stiffness. And he has he’s dealing with some personal reasons off the court. Both we take very seriously. We’re working with them to provide every resource to help them with what is needed. And, you know, he spoke to his teammates, you know, things seem to be moving very much in a positive direction. We’re gonna provide all the resources and get Ben what he needs and get them out there as soon as we can.

When asked if Simmons intends to remain with the team moving forward, a league source said it’s up to the Sixers. Rivers said he wants him around. “He is part of the team,” the coach said. “I don’t know how many times I can say that. We have certain rules. Obviously, the other day that didn’t happen. But today was a good day. “And I think … most people, we look at problems instead of the possibilities. I think if we focus on the possibilities in life in general, you have a pretty good chance of going to a good place.”


Tobias Harris: We'll respect Ben Simmons' privacy and space


According to a source familiar with the situation, Simmons’ back tightness had not previously been mentioned as a problem or treated by team staffers over the last week and a half. Thursday was the first time it was brought up as an issue that would potentially prevent him from practicing or playing. When Simmons went through his return-to-play protocol last week, Simmons returned a clean physical and had not undergone any sort of additional treatment under the care of the team.

Andrew Bogut on Ben Simmons: 'He has form doing these kinds of things'

Goorjian’s comments come after Aussie basketball icon Andrew Bogut weighed in on the “ugly” stand-off between Simmons and the 76ers. “It’s not good for either party, in my opinion. Ben’s side of things, training with your phone in your pocket, not being glued in to what’s going on,” Bogut told SEN on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, he has form doing these kinds of things; we experienced it with the national team. “There’s not going to be too much sympathy for him, but hopefully they can sort it out and both parties can have something positive to come out of it.”

“I’m disappointed with Ben Simmons,” Goorjian told SEN Breakfast on Thursday. “I look at it and go God, man, please fix this and let this kid blossom “It looks unattainable right now, though I don’t know that you can do anything other than (what the 76ers) did. “You’ve got a guy who needs to be moved, how do you move him? “That it’s at this point is horrible and I don’t have an answer to how you deal with a situation like that.

After a stressful day Tuesday with Ben Simmons being tossed out of practice and then suspended, the Philadelphia 76ers players gathered for a team dinner after flying to New Orleans in an effort to clear the air. After laughing and getting their minds off basketball for a few hours, the 76ers assembled a strong opening showing by blowing out the New Orleans Pelicans 117-97 on Wednesday, showing good team chemistry along the way. “It’s good to just go out and kinda not talk about basketball and talk about life,” said Joel Embiid, who scored 22 points and was able to take the fourth quarter off. “That’s also an evolution for me, because I usually, when I used to go on the road, I’d just like to stay in my room and be on the phone and play video games.”

In Simmons’ first meeting with team personnel last week, a meeting that included Rivers, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand, sources said Simmons reiterated that he was not mentally ready to rejoin the team after the past several months. The past several months, of course, included Rivers and Joel Embiid criticizing him after the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks. Rivers, Morey and Brand asked Simmons to be present, expecting the situation to be back to normal, but it still isn’t.

Ben Simmons going through the motions in workouts?

While waiting for Simmons to clear protocols and rejoin the team in earnest, the Sixers have only been able to put him through individual workouts and conduct meetings away from the larger group. And the early returns have not been especially encouraging — one source described Simmons as “going through the motions,” though it was noted that things have improved each day over the few days he has been here.

Critically, the Sixers believe they have the buy-in of Joel Embiid to carry out this strategy. In spite of the distance between the two over the summer and the shade cast in both directions through public interviews and leaked reports, Embiid ultimately just wants to win, and has expressed a desire to get Simmons in the fold and working toward contending. If Simmons proves stubborn or uninterested in doing so, the team believes Embiid is onboard with not settling for a trade just to be done with the problem altogether.

Simmons naysayers around the NBA have pointed to his arrival coming only after the cost of the 25-year-old’s holdout reached roughly $1 million in fines and missed game checks, yet two sources with knowledge of his thinking maintained Simmons was always prepared to forfeit money ahead of training camp, and it consistently loomed as a possibility the All-Star would report to Philadelphia in time for the regular season if he was not yet traded, with an expectation of being able to recoup a portion of his docked payments.

That physical, and Wednesday’s first practice session, are just the beginning of several phases the Sixers have planned for reintegrating Simmons into their team environment. The team has individual film and weight training sessions planned. Philadelphia has consulted with various sports psychologists in the previous weeks, and the team believes it has bolstered the resources Simmons has available to improve his game, particularly by hiring a new shooting and skills coach. It would seem likely that Philadelphia will make a concerted effort to clear the air with Simmons and his teammates, particularly Joel Embiid.

In this most recent sit-down, as was the case during that August gathering, Morey and Rivers once again asked Simmons for his reasoning for seeking a trade elsewhere. While the overwhelming majority of communication between Klutch and Philadelphia this summer has persisted between Paul, Morey and Brand, sources said, Simmons has only directly mentioned a general interest in a new start, sources said. And on Tuesday, Simmons didn’t explain why he chose to report this week, either.

Ben Simmons briefly meets with Daryl Morey, Elton Brand

Philadelphia 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons passed his physical and held a meeting with the team’s front office on Tuesday, but he remains ineligible to participate in team-related activities until Friday, at the earliest, due to NBA health and safety protocols, sources told ESPN. Simmons met with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand — his first conversation with them since August — in a meeting sources described only as “brief.”

Sam Amick: What I was told was that if (Ben Simmons returns), you’re not going to get a guy who was mentally engaged, you’re not going to get a guy who’s invested. Of course, he would talk to his teammates, because he cares about teammates in general. But, you know, the inference was like, ‘Good luck in communication with anybody else.’ Now, he and Elton brand have a good relationship. That’s the one connection point he still has with the franchise. Beyond that, I just I don’t think there’s any loyalties anywhere.

Simmons believes his partnership with Embiid has run its course and it is another reason why he wants out from the team. After the team finished up practice on Tuesday, coach Doc Rivers brushed off the latest report. “I don’t have a reaction to that because Ben’s not here,” Riverstold reporters. “I do believe at some point, he will be and if he isn’t, you got another story. I don’t get caught up in that. Right now I’m going to focus on the guys that are on the floor. I think that’s more important.”

Ben Simmons not interested in playing with Joel Embiid anymore

Yet of all the problem areas to explore, there’s none more unyielding and impossible to ignore than this: People who have intimate knowledge of how he sees this situation continue to insist that he’s done playing with Embiid. There’s nothing personal about this choice, it seems, but the 25-year-old Simmons has clearly decided that his career is better off without Embiid blocking the runways in the paint that he so badly needs to succeed.

“I watched last night a player lead their team to victory where a thousand pounds of digital ink were spilled on how much he would never play for that team again,” Morey had said of the Green Bay Packers star who led a last-second win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night after looking destined for a divorce with the franchise just months ago. “Look, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here. …Ben’s a great player, and we expect him back. We expect him to be a 76er.” Cue the response. “It’s total bullshit,” one source with knowledge of Simmons’ outlook said of Morey’s analysis.

Truth be told, sources say Simmons thought he would have been traded by now. When he met with the Sixers brass at the Los Angeles home of his agent, Rich Paul, in August, telling managing partner Josh Harris in direct fashion that he no longer wanted to play for his club, the goal was to avoid this sort of mess. Sources say the Sixers had come equipped with all sorts of reasons that he should want to stay, and even supported the argument with a statistically based presentation featuring the success of the Embiid-Simmons pairing. But his view, his uneasy feelings about the problematic fit remained unchanged.

Early on last season, when the intel coming the Philadelphia 76ers guard’s way indicated that he’d likely be trading places with then Rockets-star James Harden, Simmons was so convinced that new Sixers president Daryl Morey was about to reunite with his favorite franchise player that he started researching on the real estate front. If you had to pinpoint a moment when emotional ties were severed between Simmons and the only NBA franchise he has ever known, that may have been it.
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