Ben Simmons Reportedly Eligible to Rejoin 76ers; Won't Play vs. Pistons

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 15, 2021

FILE - Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons shoots free throws during an NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas, in this Monday, April 12, 2021, file photo. Ben Simmons can't shoot and lost his confidence. He blamed a mental block on the worst free-throw shooting percentage in NBA playoff history. The 76ers head into the offseason faced with a big question - do they try and salvage Simmons or deal the former No. 1 pick. . (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons is reportedly eligible to rejoin the active roster after clearing the NBA's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but he won't play in the team's preseason finale against the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.

ESPN's Ramona Shelburne reported Simmons stayed behind in Philadelphia to focus on conditioning while the Sixers traveled to Detroit.

Neither Simmons nor the Sixers brass has publicly confirmed the three-time All-Star is planning to rejoin the team after staying away from the organization for most of training camp while awaiting a potential trade, but things have been trending in that direction since he unexpectedly showed up at the team facilities Monday night to restart his COVID-19 testing.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday that Simmons' return was "much to the surprise" of the franchise and came after trade talks that "never came close" to Philly getting the type of assets it was searching for to move one of its star players.

Given the Sixers' lack of progress in finding a trade partner and the financial ramifications of a long-term holdout, the two-time NBA All-Defensive first-team selection is seemingly best off returning to the court with the hope of bolstering his own trade value if his request is going to stay in place.

Simmons is under contract through the 2024-25 season as part of a five-year, $177.2 million deal, which left little pressure on Philadelphia to accept a trade it didn't feel represented fair market value.

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers remained unsure of the next step in the saga as of Wednesday when he was asked if the 2016 first overall pick is going to suit up.

"I'm assuming he's going to play, but who knows? I can't get in anyone's head," Rivers told reporters.

The Sixers placed an $8.25 million payment that was due to Simmons on Oct. 1 in an escrow and were planning to take $360,000 from that account as a fine for each game he missed while away from the team, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks.

So it's a situation where the 76ers held most of the cards and, despite the potential for a Simmons holdout that could have extended into the regular season and left a major void in the lineup, they decided to hold firm.

The remaining questions should be answered in the coming days, but for now it appears the standout guard could be on the floor when Philadelphia visits the New Orleans Pelicans to tip off the new campaign Wednesday night.