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Shaquille O'Neal on Ben Simmons, 76ers Drama: I Don't Know Why He's Upset

Adam WellsSeptember 30, 2021

AP Photo/John Bazemore, File

Amid the ongoing drama between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, one member of the Basketball Hall of Fame is puzzled by the three-time All-Star's apparent anger with the organization.

Speaking to USA Today's Mark Medina, Shaquille O'Neal said he doesn't "understand why Ben is upset" with the Sixers:

"Maybe he felt disrespected when Doc [Rivers] suggested they couldn't win a championship with him. If so, I think Ben and his team should've been a little bit more professional. They should've gone to the office and said, 'OK, if you don't want us, we don't want to be here. Now let's make a trade.' But now that training camp has started and he's not there?"

The rift between Simmons and the 76ers began immediately following their Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Head coach Doc Rivers essentially avoided answering a question about Simmons' ability to be the point guard for a title team after the game:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

"I don't know the answer to that right now."<br><br>-Doc Rivers after being asked if Ben Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team. <a href="https://t.co/rw51V7rkRE">pic.twitter.com/rw51V7rkRE</a>

Joel Embiid cited Simmons' decision to forego an open layup attempt and pass the ball to Matisse Thybulle in traffic during the fourth quarter as the turning point of Philadelphia's 103-96 loss. 

"I thought the turning point was when we—I don't know how to say it—but I thought the turning point was just we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other and then they came down and scored," Embiid told reporters

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported last week that Simmons "intends to never play another game" for the Sixers and has told team management he "has no plans to wear an NBA uniform again until he is moved to a new team."

Philadelphia reported to training camp Tuesday, but Simmons was not present with the rest of the team. The 25-year-old has been linked to multiple teams in trade rumors, including the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves, but there's no indication anything is close at the moment. 

Despite Simmons' current stance, the Sixers do have some leverage in this situation. He still has four years remaining on his contract, and the team can withhold his salary starting with the 25 percent payment ($8.25 million) for 2021-22 he is due Friday.

Simmons, who has averaged 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game in 275 career games, also finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season.   

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