PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia 76ers All-Star forward Ben Simmons recorded the 30th triple-double (10 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists) of his career on Thursday night against the Miami Heat. However, after the game, it wasn't his on-court performance that media members were interested in. Instead, everyone was eager to hear how Simmons felt about being included in trade conversations between the Sixers and Houston Rockets, and ultimately not being traded to Houston in exchange for James Harden.
For a while, it seemed like Simmons could be shipped to Houston in exchange for Harden, but ultimately the Rockets opted to trade the former MVP to the Brooklyn Nets. Simmons, who was reportedly ecstatic that a deal didn't come to fruition, seems to be taking it all in stride.
"I mean, this a business," Simmons said of the trade speculation. "Things like that happen. Only thing I can control is how I approach my work, the games and my day-to-day thing. So, you know, I'm just trying to be professional and to do the right thing and help my team get wins."
"I come in here and work every day," Simmons added. "So my job is to get better and get wins -- all the other stuff I can't control. As I said before, all I can control is how I come in with my mindset, with practices and on the floor, and I had a great time tonight. I'm blessed. I get to play the game that I love every day at the highest level in the world. There's far worse things going on the world, so, you know, I'm in a blessed position. If you told me I would never play the game again, that'd be a different story."
When asked if he was happy to still be in Philadelphia, Simmons replied "of course." These comments from Simmons echo what he said last month when his name first started to pop up in Harden-related rumors.
"I come in every day, take it a day at a time, ready to work," Simmons said at the time. "Every time I got a Sixers uniform on, I'm representing the Sixers. My mentality never changes. I'm here to win a championship. That goal is never going to change... I know things are always going to be said in the media, and rumors and things like that, but my goal is to come in every day and get better and help the team that I'm on win a championship."
As a player, Simmons is certainly being professional and employing the right attitude when it comes to trade rumors. He can't control what's said about him, but he can control his on-court performance. After a down game against the Heat on Tuesday night where he finished with just five points on two shot attempts (although the possibility of a potential trade looming over him certainly may have played a part in his performance), Simmons bounced back with the triple-double in Philadelphia's win over Miami on Thursday night.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who has been a staunch Simmons supporter since he arrived in Philadelphia, was extremely impressed with Simmons' performance on Thursday night, and he said that's the Simmons that he wants to see consistently moving forward.
"I thought tonight is who he has to be every night," Rivers said of Simmons. "I love the way he played. I loved how he played under control. He didn't force it, took gaps when they were there. He was a presence on the floor for us, and not just on the offensive end but on the defensive end, as well. That takes us to a different level when he plays like that."
While there is certainly still a fair amount of pressure on Simmons in Philadelphia, he will likely benefit from the fact that a Harden deal is done, as the potential of being imminently traded will no longer be looming over him. In turn, he might feel freer out on the floor. The fact that he wasn't traded for Harden shows that he has a lot of internal support within the Sixers organization, and he would be wise to focus on that, as opposed to the fact that his name popped up in rumors. At his best, Simmons is a nightly triple-double threat and a dominant defender, and that's exactly what the Sixers need him to be moving forward.