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Is Ben Simmons back to play for 76ers? Doc Rivers: ‘We’ll all find that out’

Rivers says he had a good meeting with Simmons on Tuesday but wouldn't speculate about his All-Star's intentions.

Sixers coach Doc Rivers didn't rule out Ben Simmons playing Friday in the preseason finale, although it's unlikely.
Sixers coach Doc Rivers didn't rule out Ben Simmons playing Friday in the preseason finale, although it's unlikely.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Doc Rivers is operating under the assumption that Ben Simmons is back with the 76ers to play for them.

“Who knows?” the Sixers coach said. “I can’t get in anyone’s head.”

But Rivers met with the disgruntled point guard Tuesday for the first time since Simmons informed the Sixers brass in August that he wanted to be traded and wouldn’t report to training camp.

Rivers was asked if Simmons gave him any indication Tuesday that he came back to play.

“Yeah, he was great, I mean he was good,” Rivers said. “But we will see. Like again, I’m not going to get into ‘He said,’ or whatever. We’ll all find that out. ... We’ll figure it out. We really will.”

» READ MORE: Ben Simmons takes required physical for Sixers, playing status still unknown

Simmons, who had requested a trade, ended a two-week holdout on Monday by talking a mandatory COVID-19 test in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot. The next day he took his required team physical. The three-time All-Star point guard also met with the Sixers brass at the team practice facility.

Simmons cannot participate in any team activities until he has five straight days of negative tests, according to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol. As a result, he could be cleared to be around his teammates on Friday.

In the meantime, Simmons is limited to individual workouts at the practice facility. Rivers noted that he was scheduled for one Wednesday evening.

The Sixers (2-1) will travel to Detroit following Thursday’s practice for Friday night’s preseason finale against the Pistons. Rivers did not rule out Simmons meeting the team in Detroit on Friday.

“Whether we play him or not, you know that’s going to depend on what we see this week,” Rivers said. “He’s coming from behind, because he hasn’t been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That’s a whole ‘nother subject. ... What we see this week will determine everything moving forward.”

Typically, Rivers won’t play someone unless that player practices the day before the game.

An apology needed?

Sources have said Simmons believed his relationship with the team and All-Star teammate Joel Embiid had “run its course.”

Last month, his teammates planned to take a jet to Los Angeles to meet with Simmons and attempt to persuade him to commit to playing for the Sixers. However, they were told that Simmons did not want to meet with them and they were instructed not to come.

Danny Green was asked if Simmons has to apologize to his teammates to earn their trust back.

“If he does, he does,” Green said. “If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. That doesn’t matter at this point. We just want everybody to come here and show up and do their part, do their job.

“I’m not asking him to do anything differently than what he normally does, because what he normally does, we’re normally effective.”

Green pointed out that the Sixers finished with the Eastern Conference’s best record last season with Simmons.

Perhaps, but Simmons was criticized in the postseason for shying away from taking shots and struggling at the foul line.

“We are not asking him to shoot jump shots,” Green said. “Just come in, be a pro, do your job. That’s what we expect of him.

“If he apologizes, cool, but you guys work with people every day. You don’t expect [an apology] from people not showing up because there’s family issues or sickness or whatever it may be. They come in and do their job.”

» READ MORE: How will Ben Simmons’ Sixers teammates welcome him back?

Practice availability

Shake Milton (sprained right ankle), Tobias Harris (right knee soreness), Matisse Thybulle (right shoulder soreness), and Grant Riller (right knee surgery) remained sidelined during Wednesday’s practice.

Thybulle might practice on Thursday.

“If Matisse practices [Thursday], we will have a better idea,” Rivers said of his availability for Friday. “If he doesn’t practice [Thursday], then he probably will not play Friday. That’s the way it works, obviously.”

The Sixers signed and subsequently waived Jared Brownridge and Braxton Key. The duo is expected to join the Delaware Blue Coats, the Sixers’ NBA G-League team.