With the clock ticking down on Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, it's looking increasingly likely that Ben Simmons will remain in Philadelphia for at least the rest of the season. That doesn't mean he's going to play. It just means he'll still be on the 76ers roster.
Simmons could play, of course. There has long been a quiet hope that when faced with the reality of not being traded, Simmons, who stands to forfeit $32 million if he sits out the full season, might give in and return to the team and court to make one last playoff run before a trade is likely facilitated this offseason.
Might Joel Embiid reach out to Simmons to encourage such a compromise? It doesn't sound like it. When asked whether Simmons would be welcomed back if he's not traded by Thursday's deadline, Embiid said "whoever wants to play is welcome" but added he doesn't "get paid to babysit" before finishing his lengthy thoughts by putting the ball in Simmons' court. "You got to show up," Embiid said. "You got to want to be there."
Here's Embiid's full answer:
"Like I've been saying since the season started. I'm happy. Whoever wants to play is welcome. If someone wants to play, they're welcome. But we've got guys here that want to be here, that show up every single night. Like I said, it might be, I don't know what other word I can use, but I get paid to bring results and win games. I don't get paid to, you know, babysit Tyrese. I get paid to challenge him to try to help me win games. I get paid to, you know, do the same thing to Tobias and all the other guys and they respond to it, every single time. And just like the same way they challenge me, they know that it is never personal. I always go at them, and they always come back at me, because we all got the same goal: we want to win.
But anybody is welcome to play. And if you want to be part of us, I'm sure everybody is going to be fine with it. But you got to show up, you got to want to be there, and I'm sure everybody's going to accept whoever that is. But, you know, to answer your question, I'm just worried about the guys that are here. For the guys that are here - if you're here, I'm going to challenge you and we're going to challenge each other to be better and try to win a championship."
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Meanwhile, Doc Rivers, who was named one of the 15 best coaches in NBA history on Tuesday, was very clear after Philly's loss to Phoenix about a current hole on the Sixers' roster, which just so happens to be a hole Simmons could fill.
"We have to get another guard," Rivers said. "We just do."
It remains a shame to play a full season in the middle of Embiid's prime, when he's playing at an MVP level no less, at anything less than full strength if you don't have to.
But Simmons feels rooted in his decision to never play for the Sixers again, and Daryl Morey is equally adamant about not trading him for anything less than what he feels to be proper value. If Embiid isn't going to try to build a bridge between the two -- which to be clear, he shouldn't have to -- then the unfortunate reality is everyone might be stuck where they are.