The ongoing Ben Simmons drama, including a suspension, has sucked some of the energy out of the Sixers’ opener, coach Doc Rivers admitted to Brian Windhorst of ESPN and other media members. Simmons was suspended for the opener after refusing to participate in a practice drill.
“It’s a predicament that we’re in and that part is no fun. It really isn’t,” Rivers said. “We get to play right now and Ben is not. I want Ben to be playing. That’s his job.”
Simmons will be fined $330K for missing Wednesday’s game, increasing his fines for missed games — including the preseason — to more than $1.7MM.
We have more from the Atlantic Division:
- Celtics swingman Jaylen Brown, who had been sidelined due to a positive COVID-19 test, will be in the starting lineup against the Knicks tonight, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. Brown said he experienced “some mild symptoms for the most part” and used meditation to recover from the virus. He’ll have an inhaler at the ready if he has any breathing issues. Al Horford, who also recently contracted COVID-19, remains sidelined to start the season, though head coach Ime Udoka said the veteran center is doing well physically.
- Celtics guard Josh Richardson will not play in the opener due to a migraine, the team’s PR department tweets. Richardson was acquired in a trade with Dallas in late July.
- New York native Kemba Walker is thrilled to be playing for his hometown team at last, Bontemps writes in a separate story. He’s hoping to prove the knee issues that plagued him with Boston won’t be a major factor with the Knicks. “Perfect timing. [I’m] really motivated,” he said. “Super excited that these guys have belief in me. I just need somebody to believe in me.”