On the eve of their season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans, the Philadelphia 76ers were once again sucked back into the everlasting drama that surrounds the Ben Simmons situation.
Head coach Doc Rivers threw the 25-year-old point guard out of the team’s practice on Tuesday before the team suspended him for the season-opener in New Orleans.
“I just thought he was a distraction today,” Rivers said. “He didn’t want to do what everyone else is doing.”
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Simmons refused to take part in the next session of the team’s practice.
“At this point, I don’t care about that man, he does whatever he wants,” star center Joel Embiid said. “That’s not my job… I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, and trying to lead the guys we have here. I’m sure they feel the same way because the chemistry has been excellent despite everything that has happened in the last few months.”
Simmons returned to the 76ers, partaking in practice for the first time this week after a tense summer that saw him vow to never play for the team again while demanding a trade out of Philadelphia.
Throughout much of 2021, the 76ers have tried to trade Simmons but were not able to find the proper return for an All-Star player with elite defensive capabilities. Much of that has to do with his inconsistent offensive play that is often a liability.
Still, the 76ers were holding out some form of hope that Simmons would decide to suit back up for the team upon his return — which is why Rivers was asked whether or not he believed the point guard still wanted to be apart of this group.
“Well today, not, obviously,” Rivers said. “We told him to go home. But hopefully at some point, yeah.”
Quite a distraction to be dealing with before a season with high hopes begins.
“The team is in a good place right now,” Rivers said. “We have to focus on our team, not what could happen. Right now. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t tell you if they’ll be focused three weeks from now.”