Although the Sixers had become increasingly optimistic about the possibility of Ben Simmons reporting to Philadelphia, they’d expected it to happen sometime later this week, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, who says the club was surprised to see Simmons return to the arena on Monday to take his mandatory COVID-19 test.
“All of the sudden, near the opening tip tonight of that Brooklyn/Philly preseason game, I’m told that (general manager) Elton Brand gets a text message essentially saying, ‘Hey, Ben’s outside the building, he needs to get in and come take his COVID test,'” Wojnarowski said during an appearance on Sportscenter on Monday night (video link). “And that’s how the Sixers found out that Ben Simmons – after two weeks away in the preseason – had returned to Philadelphia.”
Simmons’ holdout may be over, but it remains to be seen what exactly comes next for him and the team, according to Wojnarowski, who says it’s unclear whether the three-time All-Star plans to “merely report to team or truly rejoin the team.”
A league source recently told Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer that Simmons still doesn’t intend to play in a game for the 76ers, but head coach Doc Rivers remains optimistic about getting the 25-year-old back on the court.
“We’ve said from Day 1 what we wanted,” Rivers said before Monday’s game. “That we would love to get him back. … My guess is if and when he comes, I think he will be ready to play.”
Sources tell Wojnarowski that there’s an expectation Simmons will meet with franchise leadership on Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. The discussions that take place during that meeting should help determine the next steps for the two sides.
Here’s more on the situation:
- Pompey provides a few more interesting details in his report, writing that Simmons has officially put both of his Philadelphia-area residences up for sale and noting that Sixers fans in the nosebleed section on Monday chanted, “(Expletive) Ben Simmons!” late in the game.
- If Simmons is willing to reintegrate with the Sixers, his camp and the club are expected to discuss the possibility of him recouping some of the money he lost when he was fined for missed practices and games over the last couple weeks, per Wojnarowski.
- The 76ers haven’t come close to finding a trade they like for Simmons and don’t have any traction on a deal at this point, sources tell ESPN. However, Wojnarowski acknowledges the trade market could “shift quickly” once the regular season gets underway.
- Asked on Monday about Simmons’ potential return, star center Joel Embiid, who admitted he hadn’t talked to his All-Star teammate over the offseason, provided the following response, per Kyle Neubeck of PhillyVoice.com: “It’s unfortunate the whole situation happened, but we’re a better team with him on the floor. I think there are going to be some adjustments, but it doesn’t need to be awkward. We are professionals, we want to win. I want to win. He gives me the best chance to win, so that’s what I’m going to go with. But as far as coming back and all that, we’ve made a few adjustments, and he’s just got to come in and buy in and we’re going to be fine. Last year we were the No. 1 seed. You just got to buy in and we’re going to be fine.”