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Sixers’ Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons’ absence: ‘You see the glaring holes that he leaves us’

Rivers: "And you know, he may or may not play. If he does, great. If he doesn’t, then whoever we get can help us."

Ben Simmons, center, looks on during practice on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021., at the Seventy Sixers Practice Facility in Camden, N.J.
Ben Simmons, center, looks on during practice on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021., at the Seventy Sixers Practice Facility in Camden, N.J.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

BOSTON — As Doc Rivers sees it, the 76ers don’t know what they are yet.

“Ben [Simmons] hasn’t played in a game,” Rivers said before Monday’s game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

The point guard has yet to play this season because he remains mentally unfit to compete for the Sixers. The three-time All-Star wants to be traded. However, the Sixers won’t budge from their lofty demands.

“You see the glaring holes that he leaves us,” Rivers said. “And you know, he may or may not play. If he does, great. If he doesn’t, then whoever we get can help us.

“But we don’t know what any of those factors are. So right now, we are just playing games, trying to win them.”

Rivers is right; the Sixers won’t get a true sense of who they are until the Simmons saga is resolved.

They headed into Monday’s game with a 15-15 record and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference standings. It marked their worst record through 30 games since going 14-16 during the 2017-18 season.

Sixers to add Tyler Johnson as replacement player

The Sixers are adding reinforcements.

The team will sign guard Tyler Johnson to a 10-day contract as part of the NBA roster hardship allowance created to combat COVID-19 stoppages.

Sixers reserves Shake Milton, Andre Drummond and Georges Niang are sidelined after being placed in the COVID health and safety protocols. In all, the Sixers will have seven players missing the Celtics game.

Tyrese Maxey (left-quad contusion), Furkan Korkmaz (non-COVID illness), and Jaden Springer (concussion protocols) are also out, along with Simmons.

Johnson’s signing comes one day after the Sixers signed combo-guard Myles Powell to a two-way contract.

Johnson has averaged 9.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 348 career games over a nine-year career with stops with the Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns and Brooklyn Nets. Johnson can play both guard positions and could come in handy for the Sixers while Milton remains sidelined.

Milton was placed in protocols on Sunday and leaves a gap at the reserve point guard slot. A vaccinated player who tests positive for COVID-19 can typically return after a 10-day quarantine or following two negative tests 24 hours apart.

The Celtics are in worse shape than the Sixers.

Grant Williams, Brodric Thomas, Jabari Parker, Juancho Hernangomez, Sam Hauser and former Sixers Al Horford and Josh Richardson are sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols.

The National Basketball Players Association and NBA agreed Sunday night to require additional replacement players for teams dealing with players in protocols.

» READ MORE: The Sixers’ Sunday game against New Orleans was postponed after Shake Milton, Andre Drummond entered COVID-19 protocols

The rule went into effect Sunday night and will remain in place through Jan. 19.

Teams are allowed to sign replacement players for each positive COVID-19 case on their roster. However, teams have to sign at least one replacement player if they have two positive tests. They must sign at least two if they have three positives and at least three if they have four and so on.

However, if a team can produce 13 healthy players despite positive results, it can decide whether to sign the acceptable number of replacement players.

Blitzer nears deal to acquire share in MLB’s Guardians

David Blitzer is nearing a deal to acquire a 35% minority stake in Major League Baseball’s Cleveland Guardians, according to Sportico. The Guardians were known as the Cleveland Indians until last month. Blitzer is co-founder of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Sixers, the Delaware Blue Coats, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and the Prudential Center.

“While I can confirm meaningful discussions with David Blitzer about purchasing a minority ownership interest in the Cleveland Guardians, we can’t comment any further,” Cleveland owner, chairman and CEO Paul Dolan told Sportico.

The Guardians were valued at $1.375 billion in Sportico’s MLB valuations.