Ben Simmons' return to the Philadelphia 76ers hasn't gone super smoothly. On Tuesday, the Sixers suspended Simmons for one game for conduct detrimental to the team. As a result of the suspension, Simmons will miss Philadelphia's season opener against the Pelicans in New Orleans on Wednesday night.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers threw Simmons out of practice on Tuesday for being disengaged, and the suspension was handed out shortly thereafter. Rivers asked Simmons to join a defensive drill, and Simmons refused, according to The Athletic's Shams Charania. Rivers then told Simmons that he should go home, and Simmons obliged.
"I thought he was a distraction today," Rivers said of Simmons. "I didn't think he wanted to do what everyone else was doing. At the end of the day, as a coach, I had to protect the team. The team [comes] first, and then we get to the other part. So today, I thought it was more important to focus on the team."
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When asked if Simmons wants to be with the team, Rivers said: "Today, not, obviously -- we told him to go home. But hopefully, at some point, yeah."
The suspension is the latest in a long line of back-and-forth events that have transpired between Simmons and the Sixers since Philadelphia was upset by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the playoffs in June. Simmons requested a trade from the team over the offseason, and said that he wouldn't ever play for the Sixers again. However, he ultimately rejoined the team earlier this month after the team fined him for missing preseason games. Since his return though, Simmons has reportedly been "going through the motions," and Rivers apparently had enough on Tuesday.
Simmons, who has not earned any money since rejoining the team on Oct. 11, has been fined $1.4 million by the Sixers for sitting out four preseason games ($360,000 each) and received several fines for no-shows in practice, workouts and meetings, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
Sixers big man Joel Embiid told reporters after Tuesday's practice that he has yet to speak to Simmons about his status on the team, though he made it clear that he is over the situation as a whole.
"At this point I don't care about that man honestly," Embiid said of Simmons. "He does whatever he wants. That's not my job. ... I'm only focused on trying to make the team better, win some games, play hard every night, and try to lead the guys that we have here, and I'm sure they feel the same way because our chemistry has been excellent despite everything that's been happening for the last few months. So like I said, I don't really care."
The fact that Simmons is acting out isn't especially surprising. His return to Philadelphia was entirely motivated by money, and he still isn't interested in being a member of the organization moving forward. Perhaps he thinks that by acting out and serving as a major distraction he will force the Sixers to trade him, even though they've maintained that they won't make a move unless it is beneficial for the team in the present. Only time will tell if Simmons' plan will work, but for now the two sides remain locked in a standoff.