As the season rages on, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers find themselves at war.
After requesting a trade in the summer, Ben and his camp did all they could to force Daryl Morey's hand. Despite their efforts, Simmons remains a member of the organization and the situation has become increasingly volatile ever since.
Recently, the team was forced to fine him for his actions, deciding that missing time, and refusing to keep the team informed on his status, was a failure on his part to uphold his end of the contract.
But now, Simmons is blaming the team for making his mental health issues worse, adding yet another layer to this whole story.
“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben,” Klutch Sports CEO, and Simmons' agent, Rich Paul said. “Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?”
According to Paul, Ben's latest actions are not a push to get traded, but rather a push to get his mind back in the right place.
“In this case, we have to get Ben help and not put finances above mental health,” Paul said. “As an agent, I understand contractual obligations and I hold myself accountable in this business. But if someone is telling you something, we can no longer turn a blind eye in today’s world.
This is no longer about a trade. This is about finding a place where we can help Ben get back to his mental strength and get back on the floor. I want him on the floor playing the game that he loves. I want Ben on the floor whether that’s in a 76ers uniform or any other uniform, that’s not up to me, but I want him in a state where he can resume play. We want to cooperate and want to work him back on the floor.”
Simmons has apparently allowed the team’s mental health professional to talk to his personal therapist and he says he has every intention of playing again (yes, even for the Sixers) once he's ready.
At this point, however, there is still no timetable for his return.
“He’s not there yet. How can a doctor, who has only met with Ben once, say, ‘Ben is mentally ready to play?’ So do we keep digging on him, or help him?” Paul said. “Now that we understand that reluctance from Ben, it all makes sense. There was a shying away from it. If Ben has repeatedly showed behavior that entails he isn’t mentally ready to play, embrace him. Support him. We have to remove our ego from it. We all have to take responsibility.
I have a great level of respect and love for the city of Philadelphia, as someone who loves the game, but this isn’t about that. This is about Ben getting back to a place mentally where he can be back on the floor — and only Ben can tell us when that is. We have to allow him to do that.”
The 76ers still hold to their claim that they've been trying to be patient and work with Ben throughout this process.
They want him in a Sixers jersey, even despite all that has transpired in recent weeks.
Needless to say, nobody knows how all of this will play out. Will Ben return to play this season? Will he remain a Sixer through the deadline? What will he look like when he finally does take the court again?
There are so many questions, but it seems only time will show us the answers.
Simmons, 25, has not played since the 2021 playoffs, when he and his team were wiped in the second round.