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Daryl Morey and the Sixers believe the Ben Simmons saga ‘could take four years’ to resolve

Speaking on a local radio show, Morey said the Sixers have no intentions of trading Simmons unless they get a difference maker in return.

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

No one should be surprised by Ben Simmons’ cat-and-mouse games with 76ers. It was always going to play out this way.

The latest example came Thursday when the disgruntled point guard complained of back tightness ahead of Thursday’s scheduled individual workout at the practice facility. Even after being treated and cleared to work out, Simmons left the practice facility without participating in drills, a league source confirmed.

Simmons will miss Friday’s home opener against the Brooklyn Nets at the Wells Fargo Center, citing his mental state as the reason he is not ready to play, The Athletic reported. The report said the three-time All-Star is not expected to play for an undetermined period of time.

However, Sixers president of basketball operation Daryl Morey said Thursday evening on The Mike Missanelli Show on 97.5 The Fanatic that Simmons is expected to attend Friday morning’s shootaround. The Sixers’ brass is expected to meet with Simmons before the shootaround.

“That report is not the one that we heard from Ben Simmons directly,” Morey said, referring to The Athletic report.

Simmons is officially listed as “doubtful with return to competition reconditioning.”

In other news, Joel Embiid is listed as questionable vs. the Nets (0-1) with right knee soreness.

It’s no secret that Simmons wants to be traded and doesn’t intend to play for the Sixers (1-0). The problem is there are four years and $146.6 million remaining on his contract. The Sixers aren’t willing to give into Simmons’ trade demands without getting what they believe is fair value. They want to a get difference-maker, like Simmons, in return, not a role player.

» READ MORE: The Eagles’ Jason Kelce has advice for Ben Simmons: ‘Just play better, man. This city will love you

Until that time comes, the Sixers hope to reintegrate Simmons back into the team.

“Every day, expect him to come in and move toward being able to help us on the floor, because we know we’re a better team with Ben Simmons,” Morey said. “We know that’s the best plan for the team.”

All this comes after Simmons was thrown out of Tuesday’s practice and suspended one game for conduct detrimental to the team, missing Wednesday’s season opener against the New Orleans Pelicans.

A league source said Simmons was kicked out of practice on Tuesday for failing to engage during drills. Sixers coach Doc Rivers had an exchange with Simmons about his lack of engagement. The conversation ended with Rivers asking Simmons if wanted to go home or be more engaged, the source said. Simmons chose to leave.

The 25-year-old Simmons has only had three days of practice with team after ending his holdout on Oct. 11 and clearing NBA COVID-19 protocols on Oct. 15.

He has been fined $1.8 million for missing all four preseason games and for being suspended for Wednesday’s game. The team also imposed fines for missed meetings and practices.

If Simmons continues to refuse to practice, the Sixers may be faced with the prospect of suspending and fining him on a daily basis.

“We may be going through that for a very long time,” Morey said.

The Sixers plan to approach Simmons’ situation every day like he’s a guy that should be around helping them win games.

“If he chooses not to do that,” Morey said, “then we’ll handle it appropriately.”

Morey doesn’t think the Simmons saga is a distraction. He knows the Sixers will benefit most if Simmons is convinced to play and stay with the team until his fate is resolved.

“I’ll go through mud, muck over barbed wire,” Morey said. “Like we all will, Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris. We will go through whatever it takes, whatever process, whatever pain, whatever hill we have to climb. Whatever helps the 76ers win the title, we are going to do it.

“What we are doing right now gives us the best chance to win the title.”

A great time to unload Simmons would be after Dec. 15, the first day this summer’s newly signed free agents can be traded.

» READ MORE: Doc Rivers supports Ben Simmons despite Sixers star’s practice antics: ‘I want Ben to be playing’

But what if the Sixers don’t get their asking price at that time? Are they willing to wait until the trade deadline in February? And are they willing to keep him on the roster the entire season if a potential trade partner doesn’t meet their demands?

“You are going to think I’m kidding. I’m not,” Morey said on The Fanatic. “This could take four years. The conditions I pointed out to you don’t change unless Ben Simmons is traded for a difference-maker. We are in the prime of Joel’s career ... So this could be four years.

“This is not a day-to-day thing. This is like every day we are going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here or we are trading him for a difference maker. There’s no other outcome that doesn’t materially hurt our chance to win the championship in Joel Embiid’s prime.”

Injury report

Shake Milton (sprained right ankle) and Grant Riller (left knee injury recovery) remain sidelined for the Sixers. The Nets are without Kyrie Irving, who’s not with the team due to being unvaccinated for COVID-19.