Philadelphia 76ers coach Doc Rivers told reporters Monday he wasn’t sure if Ben Simmons would play in Wednesday’s regular-season opener at the New Orleans Pelicans after the All-Star guard showed up to preseason activities late following his much-publicized request for a trade and a fresh start.
The situation changed Tuesday, however, when Philadelphia suspended Simmons for at least Wednesday’s game after it was learned Rivers told the 25-year-old to go home because the player refused to participate in a defensive drill.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Rich Hofmann have since offered an update.
According to The Athletic, Simmons has mostly trained by himself since returning to Philadelphia, has ignored a majority of team staffers and was the first player to leave practice on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
“Simmons has mentally checked out of Philadelphia,” The Athletic added while also explaining Rivers expects Simmons to return to work Thursday ahead of Friday’s home opener versus the Brooklyn Nets.
Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported the Sixers have fined Simmons $1.4 million for the four preseason games he missed, “and levied numerous team fines for missed practices, on-court workouts and meetings.”
“I mean, I’m trying to win, and to win, you gotta have that relationship with your teammates,” Philadelphia star center Joel Embiid said following Tuesday’s developments while also admitting he hasn’t spoken with Simmons. “I do have that relationship with all my teammates. But, you know, at the end of the day, our job is not to baby-sit somebody. We get paid to produce on the court, go out, play hard and win some games. That’s what we get paid for. We don’t get paid to come out here and try to baby-sit somebody.”
Meanwhile, The Athletic notes Simmons is “not mentally ready yet” to play for the 76ers but isn’t entirely against the idea this fall.