With tens of millions of dollars at stake, it was no surprise to see Ben Simmons return to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Despite whatever grievances he has with the franchise, money talks, and Philly's willingness to hold his paychecks has given them all the leverage in this ongoing saga.
On the surface, some might assume that things in Philly might finally be ready to calm down. Besides, with their star back, all that's left to do is wait and see if he's able to get his trade value back up.
Unfortunately, though, there's a chance that things could get even uglier.
According to what a source told The Philly Voice, Simmons hasn't been very enthusiastic since showing up at Wells Fargo center days ago.
While waiting for Simmons to clear protocols and rejoin the team in earnest, the Sixers have only been able to put him through individual workouts and conduct meetings away from the larger group. And the early returns have not been especially encouraging — one source described Simmons as "going through the motions," though it was noted that things have improved each day over the few days he has been here.
Given the circumstances and the client history of Rich Paul (whose disgruntled players have ranged from Eric Bledsoe to Anthony Davis), this has come as no surprise to the organization. But if the trend continues and Simmons' dissatisfaction takes center stage on the floor in a Sixers uniform, there will be debate about how it impacts the team and whether it puts pressure on them to get a deal done sooner rather than later.
It's clear that the young star doesn't want to be in Philadelphia, but if his feelings start to impact his effort during games and practices, it will probably not sit well with his teammates, many of which Simmons ghosted over the summer.
It also won't do much to improve his currently sinking trade value.
Truth be told, this season might already be a lost cause for the Sixers. With an unhappy star and broken locker room, they're facing incredible obstacles on the path to contention this season.
Trading Simmons might be the only way to move on, and the process is a lot easier said than done.