When Ben Simmons announced that he would report to training camp for the Philadelphia 76ers, it sparked hope that both sides would be able to mend any and all bridges and get back to work. However, Tuesday afternoon proved that the relationship between the All-Star point guard and the organization may be beyond repairable. Simmons was kicked out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers, and this latest development should have cemented Simmons status with the team moving forward.
The Ben Simmons – 76ers Relationship Is Past The Point Of Reconcile
Sources: Doc Rivers asked Ben Simmons to join a defensive drill today. Simmons refused. Rivers asked again. Simmons said no again.
Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the ball and left.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 19, 2021
Practice…We Talking About Practice?!
After some strong reluctance, Ben Simmons caved and decided to report to training camp after all. However, while he was physically present at practice, it was clear that his body language told another story. He dressed in sweats, looked visibly disengaged from the rest of his teams, and even practiced with his cell phone noticeably in his pocket. Footage from the 76ers practice should provide fans with the gist of what the vibes are in Philly.
Ben Simmons practicing in sweatpants with his phone in his pocket. pic.twitter.com/MEdQLxudcK
— Jeff Eisenband (@JeffEisenband) October 18, 2021
Simmons was asked to participate in a defensive drill organized by head coach Doc Rivers, to which Simmons refused. Doc asked again, and Simmons again refused, to which Doc extended an invitation for Simmons to exit practice, and Simmons dropped a basketball to the ground, and left. The exchanged caused a spark in the gym and on Twitter, with analysts weighing in on what is to come for Simmons and Philly moving forward.
Setting A New Precedent
Ben Simmons' antics haven't changed Doc Rivers' stance: 'I want Ben to be playing.' https://t.co/PyIdrvxTjA via @phillyinquirer #Sixers #NBA #philaunite
— Keith Pompey (@PompeyOnSixers) October 20, 2021
Simmons is taking a route similar to that of James Harden a season ago. Harden expressed disinterest in staying with the Houston Rockets, and made it apparently known. He arrived to camp out of shape, disengaged, and ready to cause any and all chemistry issues on the way out the door in order to seemingly blow up the organization from the inside. Simmons’ situation is extremely similar, but features a brand new precedent set to be created.
Behavior such as this typically comes from players literally on their way out the door, likely with a year, or less than two years left on their contract. Simmons, however, signed a five year, $170 million extension in 2019 that takes him all the way to the 2024-25, making him an unrestricted free agent in 2025. He still has three to four years left on his current deal, which essentially means that whoever were to trade for him is holding onto him for likely the long term.
Simmons is taking control of his own destiny, furthering the power shift in the NBA towards the players even more, as he has the contract length and large salary on his side, wherever he goes. But why should Simmons want to play for a team where the head coach, one of the most recognized in NBA history, vocally expressed his distrust in the 25 year old Aussie? It is a shock to see that it is still taking this long for Simmons to be moved?
Rivers and the organization have stated that they would welcome Simmons back, but negotiations are likely being formulated behind the scenes. What kind of market Simmons has, is quite uncertain. Are the phones ringing at all?
Is “The Process” Dead?
“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly. He does whatever he wants”
Embiid speaks out after Ben Simmons got kicked out of practice
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) October 19, 2021
One of the most heartbreaking narratives for Philly fans to watch unfold is the destruction of the two figures who carried the organization through “The Process” into title contention. Joel Embiid has never been one to mince words. He is as transparent as it gets, and for the media, that makes for a content factory. When asked about Tuesday afternoon’s events, Embiid began with “At this point, I don’t care about that man. Honestly, he does whatever he wants”. Now, whether he was saying he “does not care about that, man” or “does not care about that man”, that is about as concrete as Embiid could have gotten.
Philly has expressed numerous times that they would only move on from Simmons for another franchise cornerstone, not to acquire picks, compensation, and/or role players. While there should be a handful of buyers out there willing to take on Simmons, do those type of teams have a package that entices Philly? Does Philly have any leverage left at all?
The Marriage Is Over
At this point, the relationship is not worth the effort it would take to repair. The Sixers have gone through this same song and dance with this core season after season now, and when it looks like they right the ship, the postseason continues to spell trouble. If Philly is able to move on from the All-Star guard, while remaining competitive with a top heavy Eastern Conference, they have to take it.
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