After staying away from the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, Ben Simmons showed up to the team's facilities Monday night, officially ending his holdout. But while Simmons is back in town, there are still major questions about his future with the team.
Chief among them is whether Simmons will actually take the court for the Sixers, or if he's just there so he doesn't keep losing money. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, head coach Doc Rivers expressed optimism that Simmons will play, but didn't sound all that confident.
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"I'm assuming he's going to play, but who knows?" Rivers said. "I can't get in anyone's head.
"Whether we play him or not, that's going to depend on what we see this week," Rivers continued. "He's coming from behind, because he hasn't been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That's a whole other subject. What we see this week is how we determine everything going forward."
The Sixers finish their preseason schedule on Friday night against the Detroit Pistons, and will begin the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 20 against the New Orleans Pelicans. Those contests, in particular, may come too quickly for Simmons, who has not been participating in training camp and still has to pass through the league's health and safety protocols.
But whether he's ready for opening night or not, the Sixers' goal throughout this entire process has been getting Simmons back on the court at some point this season. If he misses a few games early on, so be it.
"That is good for the organization," Joel Embiid said earlier this week of Simmons' return. "That's something that everybody wanted. I've always said that I believe that he gives us the best chance to win. We are a better team, with him than without, that's for sure. I'm happy that things have resolved and we can move on and try to try to be a better team."
Though his immediate future lies in Philadelphia, Simmons' trade request still looms over the entire situation. Earlier this summer he was adamant about never playing for the Sixers again, but the team was unable to find a deal they were happy with due to their steep asking price. In a strange twist of fate, Simmons' fastest way out of town may in fact be to take the court after all and remind everyone of his talent.