Sixers players have been careful in their comments about how Ben Simmons‘ holdout affected the team, but Georges Niang addressed the issue Friday in a radio appearance, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. As a guest on The John Kincaid Show, Niang said the atmosphere has been much better this year without the distractions that Simmons caused.
“When you … are building rosters. I’m talking from a general manager standpoint, I don’t know how much he makes but it’s a max contract, so you immediately take that off the books (when Simmons says), ‘I’m not playing,’” Niang said. “Now, you have to figure out where other role players have to set up and replace passing, dribbling, rebounding, defense.”
Simmons’ dispute with Sixers management began during the 2021 offseason and lasted until he was shipped to the Nets at last year’s trade deadline. In addition to not having one of their supposed team leaders on the court, Niang said players were concerned about who else might be included in a potential Simmons deal.
“Then the trade deadline is coming up, and everybody is walking in like, ‘Who’s being attached to him that’s going (into a trade)?’ So you had that uneasy feeling,” Niang said. “So now (this season) it’s like we did trade Matisse (Thybulle in a four-team deal). We got Jalen (McDaniels). But you know who you’re going to war with every single night.”
There’s more from Philadelphia:
- The Sixers carry a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game with the Celtics, but Joel Embiid says they shouldn’t be focused on trying to prove anything to the team with the NBA’s best record, Pompey writes in another Inquirer story. “We’re not worried about Boston or Milwaukee,” Embiid said. “We are worried about ourselves. We can get better every single night.”
- President of basketball operations Daryl Morey didn’t provide a direct answer when he was asked about James Harden‘s future during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (video link). Harden is expected to turn down his player option this summer, and there have been rumors that he is considering a return to the Rockets. “I know he’s just focused on this season and not the offseason, but I know that he’s focused on winning the championship,” Morey said. “He’s going to be wherever he feels like he has the best chance. Obviously his pairing with Embiid is very, very good and we feel like it’s the best pairing for the long term.”
- Backup center Dewayne Dedmon has been ruled out for Saturday’s game with soreness in his left hip, tweets Sixers reporter Derek Bodner. Dedmon hasn’t played since signing with Philadelphia 11 days ago.