After a summer in which he asked to be traded, Ben Simmons is back with the Philadelphia 76ers, but by no means is the situation resolved.
In fact, the line of communication between Simmons and his colleagues is still strained.
“People present at the scene say Simmons has simply come and gone inside the 76ers’ Camden, N.J., facility since returning to practice Sunday,” wrote Shams Charania of The Athletic. “He enters the facility and ignores most 76ers staffers. For instance, when the 76ers’ security official greeted Simmons on Sunday, the three-time All-Star just walked right by him. When others greet him, Simmons typically has given no response. It’s not a requirement for Simmons to talk to people inside the facility, but those present say he has been disengaged and not an active participant.
“Each day, Simmons trains by himself on his own side of the basketball court, shooting jumpers and free throws with rebounders. Sixers players greeted Simmons to start practice on Sunday, saying, ‘Welcome, Ben!’ Simmons nodded.”
After a weak Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks last season, Simmons endured criticism, both internally and externally.
He reacted by formally requesting a trade, and he reportedly refused to communicate with members of the organization. Even pleas from superstar center Joel Embiid did not sway the 6-foot-11 standout.
After finally returning to the team, Simmons also got kicked out of a team practice on Tuesday.
“Simmons showed up to 76ers’ practice on Tuesday with a similar disposition: disengaged from everyone, spending time alone and displaying the same stoic face,” wrote Charania. “He had yet to be placed into an offensive scrimmage for coach Doc Rivers’ practices since returning, and on Tuesday, as the team was doing a walk-through — a pre-practice exercise — Simmons was summoned.
“Rivers wanted Simmons to take a spot on defense during this walk-through drill, and Simmons shook his head and refused. So Rivers asked once more.
“’Ben, get in,’ Rivers told Simmons, according to sources, ‘and take the spot.’
“Simmons said no again.
“’Go home,’ Rivers told Simmons.
“Simmons dropped the basketball and walked straight out to leave the building, sources said.”
As a result, he has been suspended for Philly’s season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.