Ben Simmons surprised everyone last week when he showed up to the Wells Fargo Center and ended his holdout, at least for now, with the 76ers.
As it turns out, it wasn’t a pleasant surprise. Simmons was suspended one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” meaning he’ll miss Philadelphia’s season opener against New Orleans on Wednesday night.
The suspension came as a result of Simmons’ failure to partake in a defensive drill after being asked multiple times. At that point, Sixers coach Doc Rivers told Simmons to leave practice and go home.
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It was an unusually firm rebuke of the star guard by Rivers, who’s been ambiguous when it comes to discussing Simmons in the past, saying he was unsure whether Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team. He then tried to walk back his comments saying the media blew them out of proportion.
Regardless of whether that’s true, Rivers, along with star center Joel Embiid, both didn’t mince words when discussing Simmons after Tuesday’s practice.
Doc Rivers’ comments
Rivers said his decision to kick Simmons out was ultimately done to protect the team.
He followed that up by saying it was clear Simmons didn’t want to be in Philadelphia or with the Sixers in that moment, but hoped at some point Simmons would change his mind.
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Rivers again doubled down on his position that he hopes Simmons changes his mind and said he’ll welcome Simmons back to rejoin the team.
“Every day, every single moment, I’m going to give Ben a chance to join the team and be part of the team,” Rivers said. He’s under contract to be part of the team, and so that’s not going to change. Sometimes it happens quick and guys join back in. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
Joel Embiid’s comments
While Rivers has hope about Simmons’ future with the team, one of the team’s other stars didn’t seem to pay Simmons much mind or care one way or another about his presence.
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“At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly. He does whatever he wants,” center Joel Embiid said. “That’s not my job. That’s those guys’ jobs. I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, trying to lead the guys that we have here.”
Embiid also said he gets paid to produce on the court and provide results, not to “babysit” someone — Simmons included.