Ben Simmons Rumors: 76ers Have Stopped Fining Star for Missing Practices, Games

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVOctober 25, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons takes part in a practice at the NBA basketball team's facility, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, in Camden, N.J. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

The Philadelphia 76ers have reportedly stopped fining Ben Simmons for being away from the team, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne said Monday on NBA Today

"Some of this ... is because of a standard provision in player contracts that says if you're dealing with a mental health issue—which Ben Simmons has reported to the team that he is, he wants to work on himself mentally and physically this week—they've taken that in good faith," she reported.

Simmons reportedly met with the team last week to discuss his standing with the team, per multiple reports:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: Ben Simmons spoke to Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid and entire 76ers team today and accepted everyone needs to take responsibility, including himself — but Simmons informed them all that he’s not mentally ready to play yet and needs time.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Ben Simmons met with Sixers' medical professionals and coach Doc Rivers today and informed them that he's not mentally ready to play to his expectations now, sources tell ESPN. He also talked to his teammates today.

Players like Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris have also publicly offered Simmons support in recent days:

NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly

“He’s still our brother.”<br><br>Joel Embiid still showing love for Ben Simmons before the Sixers’ home opener. <a href="https://t.co/iwbnITiKiN">pic.twitter.com/iwbnITiKiN</a>

John Clark @JClarkNBCS

Tobias Harris on Ben Simmons<br><br>“I think we have to understand he's a human first &amp; if he’s going through something we have to respect that and be there for him as a team, organization. I think he needs some support and I relayed that to the group and I hope that message is clear” <a href="https://t.co/EZOZXSYJh7">pic.twitter.com/EZOZXSYJh7</a>

"Things seem to be moving very much in a positive direction," team president Daryl Morey told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Sunday. "We're gonna provide all the resources and give Ben what he needs, and get him out there as soon as we can."

Morey added that the goal was to keep Simmons with the Sixers amid ongoing reports this offseason that Simmons was seeking a trade:

NBC Sports Philadelphia @NBCSPhilly

"Things seem to be moving very much in a positive direction."<br><br>Daryl Morey gives an update on Ben Simmons' status 👀 <a href="https://t.co/P3kOLUw9wC">pic.twitter.com/P3kOLUw9wC</a>

The latest news regarding Simmons seems to be something of a cease-fire between him and the organization, at least for the moment, after reports emerged that Simmons felt like he was made the scapegoat for the team's disappointing Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals and that he didn't feel like he was a natural fit alongside superstar center Embiid. 

The enduring image of that loss was Simmons not attempting a wide-open dunk and instead passing to Matisse Thybulle, who was fouled on his attempt to make a layup. That is part of a broader theme of Simmons refusing to shoot the ball in the fourth quarter of that series (just three attempts in seven games). 

But Simmons and Embiid have always been an imperfect fit, both operating at their best near the basket and causing major spacing issues. It wasn't detrimental during the regular season last year—the Sixers were the top seed in the East—but it became a bigger factor in the postseason along with the team's lack of a perimeter player capable of creating his own jump shot late in a possession or operating the pick-and-roll. 

Simmons has been given the reins to run the point in Philly, but his lack of a jumper and oscillating aggressiveness in the half court has always made him more of a point forward. There's little question that he'd be a better fit on a team that could play four shooters around him, with at least one of those players capable of creating off the dribble. 

So it's hard to blame him for wanting to be dealt. The Sixers, on the other hand, are trying to keep open a championship window around Embiid and likely recognized they have little leverage to get back a solid return after Simmons' poor postseason and trade request. Until they feel they can get back a trade package that will keep them competitive, they have little reason to move on. 

Plus, Simmons is under contract for four more seasons. The Sixers can afford to slow-play this situation.  

And so the biggest NBA storyline outside of Kyrie Irving's standing with the Brooklyn Nets rolls on. For the moment, at least, it appears there has been some thawing of tension between the two sides.