The Ben Simmons saga was bound to add another twist.
One day after 76ers center Joel Embiid spoke about wanting to reunite with Simmons, The Athletic reported Tuesday morning that the feeling wasn’t mutual. A league source confirmed Simmons’ sentiment.
“It has run its course,” a source told The Athletic of Simmons’ partnership with Embiid.
A source close to the situation confirmed to The Inquirer that Simmons has decided his career would be better off without playing alongside Embiid in Philly, where there have been spacing issues and personality clashes in the past. The source also emphasized that Simmons’ tenure in Philadelphia “is done. He’s not coming back.”
“I don’t have a reaction to that, because Ben’s not here,” coach Doc Rivers said Tuesday of Simmons’ feeling about the pairing after the first day of training camp. “I do believe at some point he will be. And if it isn’t, then again, you got another story.
“So I don’t get caught up with that. Right now, I’m going to focus on the guys that are on the floor. I think that’s more important.”
Asked if he’s had to have conversations about Simmons’ comments, Rivers said not right now.
“But you know, the day he comes, yeah,” Rivers said. “This is not the first time that guys didn’t think they could play together or do [well] play together. This is basketball. So I don’t think this is any earth-shattering thing.”
Embiid did not speak to the media on Tuesday.
Before Rivers got the two to work together better last season, the perception was that Simmons and Embiid were two space-eaters who couldn’t coexist on a team with championship aspirations.
Nothing about the two All-Stars fit. Not their games. Not their personalities. Nothing. The long-standing belief many held was that the Sixers would have to move one of their young stars.
That dilemma now appears to be solved. Simmons was a no-show for Tuesday’s practice and Monday’s media day. He vowed not to attend training camp or play for the Sixers again.
In fact, a source also noted Simmons never intended to meet with teammates last week in Los Angeles because his decision had already been made.
The Sixers players planned to take a jet to meet with Simmons and attempt to persuade him to commit to play for the Sixers this season. However, they were instructed not to come because Simmons did not want to meet with them.
“He had already closed the book,” the source said.
But during Monday’s media day, Sixers players, coach Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey all said they want Simmons back.
A source confirmed that the Sixers’ words failed to produce the desired effect within Simmons’ camp.
The Athletic reported that Simmons’ camp took offense to Morey’s inference that Simmons is the NBA’s version of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who held out of training camp and vowed to never play for the team again.
“I watched last night a player lead their team to victory where a thousand pounds of digital ink were spilled on how much he would never play for that team again,” Morey said Monday of Rodgers, who lifted the Packers to a last-second victory Sunday night over the San Francisco 49ers. “Look, every situation is different, but we have a lot of optimism that we can make it work here.”
The Athletic’s source went as far as calling Morey’s analogy “total bull[expletive].”