The 76ers’ season opener is eight days away in New Orleans, and their disgruntled 6-foot-10 point guard might actually be there as well. That seemed just about impossible all offseason, but a source tells The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey that Ben Simmons arrived in Philadelphia on Monday to take his COVID-19 test, per NBA protocols. Doc Rivers says that the Sixers “would love to get him back,” and that their stance hasn’t changed. How will a return go after an offseason of drama? And how will Simmons make amends with the teammates he refused to meet with this summer? There really is a lot to talk about.
— Inquirer sports staff, @phillysport
Off the Dribble
Why would Ben Simmons come back to the 76ers after an offseason of drama headed toward a seemingly inevitable divorce? Marcus Hayes writes it would be due to the only thing Simmons really cares about: his bank account. If he shows up, then Simmons won’t be fined $360,000 per game missed anymore. And all of this is good news for the Sixers.
There might be a return on the horizon, but that’s not stopping Simmons from selling his area homes. He listed his Moorestown home for sale on Monday.
After playing parts of three NBA seasons over 12 months, the Sixers are happy to be preparing for a more normal season.
Next: As the Sixers seek a resolution to the Simmons saga, they wrap the preseason with a trip to Detroit to play the Pistons at 7 p.m. Friday (NBC Sports Philadelphia).
Give credit where credit is due. The Eagles defense showed up Sunday in the comeback win against the Panthers. The performance came after head coach Nick Sirianni had some “tough conversations” in the defensive room, including with defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon.
In fact, Gannon showed that he was willing to adapt with his schemes. Not only were there three interceptions against Carolina as a result, but defensive tackle Fletcher Cox also bounced back with a big day.
What’s next: The Eagles will talk more about their next defensive challenge — Tom Brady and the Buccaneers — ahead of their walk-through today.
How do you fix a Phillies team that missed the playoffs for the 10th straight year? If history is any indication, you spend money — and lots of it — on free agents. But free agency is not going to save the Phillies this offseason, at least not if they continue with their same approach. The reality, as David Murphy writes, is that the Phillies need big-ticket free agents at small-ticket prices. Good luck, Dave Dombrowski.
After firing his hitting coach on the last day of the season, Joe Girardi hired a guy he knows pretty well.
On the Fly
The Flyers implemented a new fan code of conduct that will be the first of its kind in the NHL.
And among those impressed was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“Our clubs play a vital role in developing effective policies and executing them,” said the commissioner. “And I applaud the Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center, and EIC member Valerie Camillo, in particular, for being leaders in our shared mission to make the National Hockey League a place where all feel safe, comfortable and valued.”
The code of conduct was not the only new arrival for the Flyers on Monday, as the club also claimed forward Patrick Brown off waivers. The 29-year-old might not be a household name, but some of his family members are. Brown’s grandfather is former New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, meaning he’s also cousins with actresses Kate and Rooney Mara.
U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter’s success must live by the sword of bulk roster changes, or die by the sword of those switches, apparently. After Berhalter gave a number of first-choice players a rest, the poor USMNT performance and loss in Panama were a depressing reminder to American fans of the fragility of Concacaf qualifying campaigns. It stung especially given that the defeat came on the anniversary of the infamous game that cost the U.S. the chance to compete in the most recent World Cup. Still, all should be well if and when Berhalter and company can right the USMNT ship and win on Wednesday.
Worth a look
The question of whether Philly fandom will forgive Simmons is an interesting one, but there’s no denying the city loves a good comeback. Athletes, like so many of us during this pandemic, have had to be creative in their recovery from what in many ways was a lost year. Check out some interesting solutions in these stories below, as well as predictions for the Flyers in their Metro Division and the recent fate of another player who wanted out of Philly.
Find where the Flyers might rank in their division: The Metro kings will likely be the New York Islanders, leaving the Flyers to fight other clubs for a playoff spot.
Schadenfreude is the word to describe how Mike Sielski and many Eagles fans feel watching Carson Wentz play well, but not well enough.
It’s all about the good vibrations as St. Joseph’s women’s cross-country team aims for success.
Meanwhile, at Temple, isolation in nature was key to team bonding for the men’s cross-country program.