Things between the Philadelphia 76ers and Ben Simmons are still far from smooth. After ending his holdout and returning to Philadelphia last month, Simmons told the Sixers that he isn’t yet mentally prepared to play. Since then, the Sixers have said all of the right things publicly, and privately they have provided Simmons with off-court resources to help him get his mind right. However, Simmons hasn’t been accepting of that help, and he also hasn’t been keeping the Sixers in the loop when it comes to his status, according to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne.
Here’s what Shelburne had to say during an appearance on ESPN’s ‘NBA Today’ on Tuesday:
There has been frustration mounting, according to people close to the situation, that Ben has not been accepting any of the help that the team has offered him in terms of helping him with his mental readiness. He has been working with mental health professionals through the player’s association, but thus far I’m told he hasn’t really kept the team in the loop on that, and there is frustration mounting there. They want to know. So far he’s just done individual work with some of their position coaches, he hasn’t been back in with the team, and he’s not providing the team with any updates on what he’s doing to get back and get himself back with the team and participating in team activities.
Team president Daryl Morey approached Simmons Wednesday to discuss a possible return to play, but Simmons told him he’s still not mentally ready to return to the floor, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The 76ers would like feedback from Simmons on the work he is doing to improve the situation, but have not requested specifics about his conversations with mental health professionals, according to Charania.
Shelburne also added that there is no timeline whatsoever when it comes to a return to game action for Simmons. Clearly, the two sides still aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, as Simmons still wants to be traded while the Sixers want Simmons to suit up. During a Philadelphia radio appearance late last month, Morey made it clear that the team remains steadfast in its stance — they want Simmons to play, and will only trade him if such a move is beneficial for the team in the present.
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“We expect Ben to come in and move towards being able to help us on the floor because we know we’re a better team with Ben Simmons and we know that that’s the best plan for the team,” Morey said. “This is a very good player, and to give ourselves the best chance to win the title, you need different makers. You don’t need role players.
“Right now, any sort of trade which obviously Ben Simmons wants, the best thing we can do is get role players back. That makes no sense. That will give us no better chance to win the title if we were to move Ben Simmons for role players. So, people better buckle in. This is going to go a long time because our only path, my only job is to help us to the best chance to win the title. Ben Simmons is a difference-maker so to get him back, he will help us win the title. If we can trade Ben Simmons for a difference-maker, we will do it. I think that’s best for everyone in this situation.”
Given where things stand currently, the situation still feels very far from resolution. In the meantime though, the Sixers have gotten off to a solid start to the season sans Simmons. They won five of their first seven games, and they have the best offense in the NBA through two weeks of action.