Basketball News: Ben Simmons last spoke with the front office of the Philadelphia 76ers during a meeting in late August, when he requested a trade away from the team that chose him first overall in 2016.
However, he astonished the organisation on Monday night by showing up unannounced at the Wells Fargo Center before their preseason win over the Brooklyn Nets, as originally reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Sixers are hopeful to start moving toward the next steps of a return with Simmons, per sources. Organization wants him back on the court once he clears protocols, but that remains to be seen. https://t.co/4Zc3gUp50R
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 12, 2021
Simmons has been MIA for the past two weeks, avoiding training camp and the Sixers’ pre-season schedule in a bid to force a trade away from the team after a rocky playoff run last season.
Despite this, reports surfaced on Monday that Simmons would be back with the squad before the end of the week after conversations between the player’s agent Rich Paul and the team’s head coach Doc Rivers.
Nobody predicted, though, that the Australian point guard would fly directly from Los Angeles to the Sixers’ home arena. Only until general manager, Elton Brand received a text message saying, ‘Hey, Ben’s outside the building,’ prior to tip-off, was the organisation made aware of the player reporting back to the squad.
According to Wojnarowski, Simmons’ future in Philadelphia is uncertain, but there is a sense that the three-time All-Star feels he has made his point after failing to report to training camp and costing himself $1 million in compensation.
According to the regulations of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Simmons was fined $360,000 for each of the two pre-season games he missed, as well as being punished gradually by the team for each practice session he chose not to attend, ranging from $2,500 to a maximum of $50,000 per practice.
Despite scouring the league over the summer offseason, President Daryl Morey has yet to find a suitable trade destination for their wantaway star. With Simmons’ remaining contract for $147 million over four years and the alleged asking price of an ‘elite’ or All-Star calibre player in return, any move appears impossible at the moment.
In that respect, it is perhaps unsurprising that Simmons has made such a dramatic U-turn, given the ample evidence that any prospective market for the player has completely dried up.
However, as Wojnarowski points out, that may all change once the season begins next week and additional players become eligible to be transferred in December.
As things stand, Simmons is expected to suit up for the Sixers when the season begins on October 19, and both Rivers and star centre Joel Embiid appear eager to welcome him back – a dramatic U-turn of their own given comments made after the Eastern Conference semi-finals series against the Atlanta Hawks.
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