Ben Simmons was booted out of practice on Wednesday and suspended for one game as he seems determined to kick stones and force Philadelphia to trade him.
The Aussie NBA star was sent home from a session and will miss the 76ers’ season-opener against New Orleans on Thursday because of “conduct detrimental to the team”, the Sixers said in a statement.
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According to multiple reports from the US, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers tossed Simmons out when he refused to participate in drills.
ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski wrote on Twitter: “Simmons’ reluctance to physically and mentally engage with the Sixers since his return has been a consistent theme, sources tell ESPN.”
Sources: Doc Rivers asked Ben Simmons to join a defensive drill today. Simmons refused. Rivers asked again. Simmons said no again.
Rivers then told Simmons he should go home, and Simmons dropped the ball and left.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 19, 2021
Speaking after practice, Rivers said: “I thought he was a distraction today. I didn’t think he wanted to do what everyone else was doing.
“It was early and it wasn’t a big deal, I just told him he should leave then and we went on with practice.
“My job as a coach is to keep trying to get guys to buy in … that’s my job. I’m not going to stop my job.
“We told him to go home. Hopefully at some point (he’ll show a better attitude).
“Today, I just thought it was more important to focus on the team.”
All-Star teammate Joel Embiid has already taken a public swipe at Simmons for his holdout this off-season and he had no time for the 25-year-old’s latest antics.
“At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody,” Embiid told reporters. “We get paid to produce on the court, go out, play hard, win some games. That’s what we get paid for.
“We don’t get paid to come out here and try to babysit somebody. That’s not our job. I’m sure my teammates feel that way.
“At this point, I don’t care about that man, honestly. He does whatever he wants.
“I’m only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night and try to lead the guys we have here and I’m sure they feel the same way.
“Like I said, I’m not going to babysit. I’d be willing to babysit if someone wants to listen but that’s not my job.”
The dramatic development in Simmons’ stand-off with the 76ers came after he was seen at practise on Tuesday taking part in drills with his phone still in his pocket. There was also a moment at the end of that session where he didn’t participate in an all-team huddle, instead heading to the locker room on his own.
Upset at the criticism he copped for his offensive woes during last season’s playoffs defeat to Atlanta, Simmons made it clear he wants out of Philly despite still having four years and $AUD200 million remaining on his contract.
However, the 76ers weren’t going to let him leave without securing a genuine star as compensation. So far, the team hasn’t been offered an attractive enough trade package in return for Simmons and is keeping him on the books.
Simmons was being fined for every pre-season game missed as reports suggested he was determined to sit out for as long as it took to force a trade. However, heavy financial sanctions may have convinced him to return to Philadelphia, which he did last week despite reportedly not telling anyone at the organisation he was planning to come back.
Wojnarowski reports Simmons has already racked up more than $1.87 million worth of fines since pre-season kicked off because of his refusal to play games, join meetings or take part in practices.
While some were optimistic his unexpected return to Philly may have signalled a shift in attitude, it’s clear Simmons has come back in an attempt to speed up a trade out of there. By acting so petulantly, he’s telling the 76ers if they keep him against his will, that’s the version of him they’ll have to deal with.
If he continues to have such a poor attitude and be a negative influence on the team, the Sixers may be inclined to try even harder to work out a trade and get him out of their hair — so Simmons hopes.
However, the 76ers haven’t folded yet — and aren’t expected to even as Simmons behaves like a problem child.
“Sixers’ approach on a trade has remained steadfast: They won’t move Simmons for role players — only a player who’ll help keep them a championship contender,” Wojnarowski tweeted after the Australian was sent home from practice.
“That hasn’t changed. For now, no one should expect a speedy resolution on Simmons’ future in Philadelphia.”
Ben Simmons has officially returned to his team, but videos from his latest training session show it really isn’t what it seems.
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