The Ben Simmons saga took another turn this week when the Australian point guard took a U-turn on his decision to not return to Philadelphia. The All-Star reported to the 76ers and got his COVID test done. There is no clear indication about what the plan is going forward.
The 76ers will probably want to keep Simmons and convince him to stay and buy into their ambition of wanting to win a championship with him and Joel Embiid. Whereas Simmons will want to work with the franchise to orchestrate a trade for himself and leave the franchise.
One of the people who played a key role in Simmons' returning to Philly was Doc Rivers. Rivers has been making appearances in the press in order to suppress his comments after Game 7 of the series against the Hawks where he raised doubt over Simmons' being a championship-caliber point guard.
And it appears he lost his patience with Simmons and his management team over his return. In an article by Bleacher Report, it was revealed that Rivers screamed at Rich Paul during a meeting at his house that Simmons has an obligation to return to the 76ers in his contract.
From the initial conversations in Chicago, when Paul found Morey and Brand on separate occasions to first levy Simmons' trade request during the week of the NBA Draft Combine, Klutch figures maintained the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up planned to skip training camp. The Sixers have stood firm that they don't necessarily want to move Simmons and are only open to trading him for one of the few players in a tier above Simmons, such as Damian Lillard, or James Harden before him. The Sixers still believe the dominant defensive pairing between him and Embiid can be the backbone of a 2022 title team.
For that, dating back to those Combine dialogues, Philadelphia was adamant in its plans to withhold Simmons' pay for not complying with the terms of the five-year, $170-plus million agreement he signed in July 2019. Later, at Paul's home, Rivers even shouted, “It's in your f--king contract” to report and play for Philadelphia, sources told B/R.
It was a long road to get Simmons to return. He initially refused to come back to the organization and training camp. But perhaps after seeing how much money he could stand to lose with the fines for not showing up, he must have changed his mind and decided to comply with the organization's demand.
The 76ers will have a tough time convincing Simmons to say, given how adamant he has been about wanting a fresh start with a different franchise. Simmons is willing to join any team in the NBA, and just wants to leave Philadelphia. At the moment, the organization is working with several different teams for a trade.