A rare bit of encouraging and positive news emerged from the never-ending soap opera between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, with ESPN's Tim Bontemps providing the latest:
Simmons initially held out of the first few weeks of training camp due to a trade request and a reported refusal to ever play for the team again.
However, he reported to Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center on Monday, Oct. 11, to start the process of transitioning back to the team. He cleared COVID-19 protocols and attended his first 2021-22 season practice on Sunday, Oct. 17.
Simmons' regular-season debut has been delayed, though, mainly because of a one-game suspension resulting from him being kicked out of practice for essentially refusing to participate in part of the session, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. Officially, the suspension was for conduct detrimental to the team.
Without him, the 76ers took the season opener by beating the host New Orleans Pelicans 117-97 on Wednesday.
Simmons will not suit up for Friday's home matchup with the Brooklyn Nets either. Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic provided a report on that front.
Charania added: "Simmons reported to shootaround today ahead of Nets game and was seen engaged around the team, sources said. The three-time All-Star has expressed he wants to play but isn't prepared mentally."
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN added more:
For now, Simmons is out, but his teammates will welcome him back when ready. Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris and point guard Tyrese Maxey expressed that sentiment Friday:
Without Simmons, Maxey started at point guard for Philadelphia on Wednesday. He had 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
Shake Milton should also see time at point guard when healthy, but he is rehabbing a right ankle sprain. He's close to a return, per Rivers (h/t Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire).
After the Nets game, the 76ers have a packed schedule that includes 12 games between Oct. 24 and Nov. 13. The first one up is a road date with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday.