Simmons Tells Rivers, Sixers He’s Not Mentally Ready To Play

Sixers star Ben Simmons spoke today to head coach Doc Rivers, the team’s medical staffers, and his teammates, informing them he’s not mentally prepared to resume playing and needs more time, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter links) and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Simmons reported to Philadelphia’s shootaround on Friday and “was seen engaged around the team,” per Charania, who says the 25-year-old expressed that he wants to play once he’s mentally ready to do so. Sources tell Wojnarowski that the next steps for Simmons will be based on the determination of medical professionals.

Prior to skipping a scheduled individual workout on Thursday, Simmons complained of back stiffness and briefly received treatment, but team doctors reportedly cleared him to participate in workouts. So it sounds like Woj’s note about Simmons being evaluated by medical professionals is more about the three-time All-Star’s mental health than his physical health. The team has offered Simmons whatever resources are necessary to assist him, sources tell ESPN.

The 76ers suspended Simmons for their regular-season opener on Wednesday after he showed little engagement in practices earlier in the week and failed to sub into a defensive drill during Tuesday’s practice.

However, Charania’s latest report suggests Simmons put a little more effort into today’s shootaround, which means Philadelphia will probably just make him inactive for Friday’s home opener rather than suspending him again. As long as he remains engaged in practices and is working in good faith toward rejoining the club for games, that could be the plan for the immediate future.

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made it clear during a radio appearance on Thursday that he’s not rushing to find a trade for Simmons and won’t move the former No. 1 pick unless the team gets a “difference-maker” in return. Morey expressed a hope that Simmons would participate in practices and games for the 76ers, noting that getting him back on the court would be better for the club’s title chances than trading him for 25 cents on the dollar.

According to Wojnarowski, Simmons has accumulated nearly $2MM in fines so far for missing games, practices, and meetings. There is a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that protects players’ salaries in the event they’re unable to render services “if such failure has been caused by the player’s mental disability,” Woj notes.

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