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Shams: Ben Simmons Not Against Playing for 76ers, but Isn't 'Mentally Ready Yet'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 20, 2021

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

Ben Simmons, who was sent home from Philadelphia 76ers practice and suspended one game on Tuesday for refusing to participate in defensive drills, "is not against playing, but he is not mentally ready yet," according to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium. 

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: Doc Rivers asked Ben Simmons to join a defensive drill today. Simmons refused. Rivers asked again. Simmons said no again. <br><br>Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the ball and left.

Charania added that it's become "clear around the league" that the Sixers are "attempting to try to use any amount of leverage now that Simmons has returned to Philadelphia. The 76ers are not trying to move Simmons and have made clear that they will not deal him at this time, according to sources."

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the same:

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Sixers' approach on a trade has remained steadfast: They won't move Simmons for role players -- only a player who'll help keep them a championship contender. That hasn't changed. For now, no one should expect a speedy resolution on Simmons' future in Philadelphia. <a href="https://t.co/YUdkseUZOo">https://t.co/YUdkseUZOo</a>

Sixers superstar center Joel Embiid seemed more than a little annoyed with his disgruntled teammate while speaking to reporters:

"At this point, I don't care about that man. He does whatever he wants. That's not my job, that's [the front office's] job. I'm only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, try to lead the guys we have here, and I'm sure they feel the same way. Our chemistry has been happening the last few months. So like I said, I don't really care. I don't care. That's his problem. I'm only focused on what we've been doing. As a team, we're going to be fine."
Kevin Negandhi @KevinNegandhi

“Our job is not to babysit somebody.”<br><br> <a href="https://t.co/XNQ3RVaD8t">pic.twitter.com/XNQ3RVaD8t</a>

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Sixers head coach Doc Rivers added that Simmons was a "distraction" on Tuesday but that he would give him the opportunity to return to the team going forward. 

"Every day, every single moment, I'm going to give Ben a chance to join the team and be part of the team," he said. "He's under contract to be part of the team, and so that's not going to change."

The Athletic @TheAthletic

Since he started showing up for Sixers practice, Ben Simmons ...<br><br>◻️ has mainly trained solo<br>◻️ didn't sprint in a live setting through the first two days<br>◻️ has largely ignored staffers<br>◻️ was thrown out<a href="https://twitter.com/ShamsCharania?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ShamsCharania</a> on what's going on and what's next: <a href="https://t.co/A85iC9UJwS">https://t.co/A85iC9UJwS</a> <a href="https://t.co/mf4efUR1Cm">pic.twitter.com/mf4efUR1Cm</a>

It's the latest twist in the ongoing saga between the 25-year-old and the Sixers.

Simmons clearly wants to be traded, while the Sixers don't want to be forced into taking a bad deal for a player whose trade value has never been lower after a poor Eastern Conference Semifinals series that saw him attempt just three fourth-quarter shots and pass up a wide open dunk at a critical moment in Game 7. 

The Sporting News @sportingnews

Ben Simmons attempted 3 total shots in the 4th quarter in the entire 7-game series vs. the Hawks. <a href="https://t.co/5AWJ0acJRZ">pic.twitter.com/5AWJ0acJRZ</a>

There's little doubt that a change of scenery is in the best interests of all parties involved. But the Sixers are going to try to rebuild some leverage in potential trade talks, either by winning with Simmons off the court or getting him back on the court and playing at his previous All-Star level. 

Simmons, meanwhile, appears to be taking the James Harden and Jimmy Butler approach to forcing a trade, making himself a distraction and making it clear to everyone in his vicinity that he isn't happy with the current situation.

Outside of Kyrie Irving being away from the Brooklyn Nets because of his stance against vaccine mandates, the Sixers vs. Simmons showdown is the biggest drama in the NBA on opening night. And with the Sixers seemingly resolved to not being forced into a trade they don't like and Simmons amid a four-year contract, it's a situation that could linger well into the season. 

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