Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers made an interesting comparison on Friday when discussing the organization’s attempts to convince disgruntled All-Star forward Ben Simmons to report to training camp. Simmons has made it clear to the Sixers that he wants to be traded, and that he doesn’t plan to play another game for the franchise, but the Sixers are hoping that he will ultimately change his mind. During an appearance on MSNBC, Rivers briefly waded into political waters in order to provide an update on the situation.
“There’s times that I think we’re getting through,” Rivers said. “And there’s times that I think that I’m talking to people who still believe Trump won the election. So I’m not sure, but I’m going to keep trying.”
Rivers is alluding to the fact that both Simmons and people who still believe that Donald Trump won last year’s election have shown some stubbornness. Some may find the comment subjectively funny, but it seems unlikely that it will help Philadelphia’s cause of trying to convince Simmons to return to the team given the fact that Simmons has publicly denounced Trump on several occasions. Since Simmons is vocally anti-Trump he probably won’t appreciate being compared to supporters of the former president.
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During an appearance on ESPN’s First Take earlier this week, Rivers made it clear that the Sixers’ goal is to have Simmons in uniform when the team opens up the 2021-22 NBA season against the New Orleans Pelicans on Oct. 20.
“I think in sports, you’ve been around it a lot, there’s been so many times this has happened that hasn’t been reported and the guy comes back,” Rivers said. “So, listen, we’re going to go through it. We’re going to always do what’s best for the team. But I can tell you, up front, we would love to get Ben back and if we can we’re going to try to do that. Ben has a long contract so it’s in our hands and we want him back…. We just got to keep communicating and see where we can take this.. Right now Ben is still part of this team, and I’m going to focus on that part of it.”
When it comes to the Simmons situation, Oct. 1 will be a date to keep an eye on. Simmons is owed 25 percent of his salary for the upcoming season on that date, and the Sixers could opt to withhold that payment if they’re prepared to enter arbitration, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. The team could also opt to suspend Simmons. At that point, he’d lose 1/145 of his salary for the season (around $228,000) with each game that he missed.
Ultimately, the whole situation could come down to how much money Simmons is willing to forfeit by staying away from the team. If he’s alright with missing out on a sizeable chunk of cash that he would be otherwise entitled to, then perhaps his absence will be an extended one. If not, maybe he’ll return to the team and make the best out of the situation until a trade is inevitably made.