The attempted reconciliation between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers has become contentious and frosty overnight. The 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year was kicked out of Tuesday morning’s practice and also suspended one game for “detrimental conduct.” According to reports (and video) from the session, Simmons could be seen with an active cellphone in his pocket during the workouts, and he refused to join the rest of the team when they huddled.
Simmons’ visible disengagement took a sharper turn when coach Doc Rivers (whom Simmons reportedly blames for this whole mess) asked him to join his teammates. Simmons allegedly told Rivers he wasn’t doing that, so Rivers dismissed him for the day. Rivers spoke with the media after the practice and explained why he booted Simmons: “I thought [Simmons] was a distraction today. I told him, ‘You should leave Ben.'”
Simmons’ reaction to Rivers was summed up in one sentence by NBA analyst Shams Charania: “Ben Simmons took the ball and walked straight out of the building.”
Nearly one month ago, a cadre of Simmons’ teammates planned to visit him in L.A. in the hopes of convincing him to return, and that group included coach Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris. Simmons declined the meeting but later changed his tune when the financial impact of his holdout became too real.
But it looks like Simmons’ behavior has worn down his formerly staunchest supporters. It was one week ago that Embiid said that his teammate’s return would be “good for the organization” and that he believes “[Simmons] gives us the best chance to win.”
However, the 76ers big man has done an about-face and is fed up with Simmons. “At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid said yesterday. “[Simmons] does whatever he wants.”
Rivers appeared to still hope things will turn around, and he expects Simmons to return to practice on Thursday. “I’m going to give Ben every chance to be part of the team,” he told the press, and then later added that “…[as] a coach, I have to protect the team first.”
Reports of Simmons’ problematic character aren’t necessarily new. Jonathan Givony voiced his misgivings about Simmons nearly six years ago, and even NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady spoke about the guard’s apparent insouciance when they first crossed paths. Now, the rest of the NBA is watching the drama unfold, and there are questions as to if the Aussie guard has any more worthwhile trade value.
According to commentator Adrian Wojnarowski, though, Simmons still garners interest from various organizations and might land somewhere else soon. “Other teams know that this is part of an act,” he said on ESPN’s NBA Today. “This is part of a process that Ben Simmons is going through to try to accelerate a trade.”
Check out how Twitter is reacting to Ben Simmon’s latest behavior below: