Daryl Morey tried to squash reports that the 76ers made Ben Simmons available in a possible trade for Houston Rockets star James Harden.
“We are not trading Ben Simmons,” the team’s president of basketball operations told The Athletic Thursday night. “He is an important part of our future.”
In light of Morey’s comment, Sixers coach Doc Rivers was asked before Friday’s preseason game in Indianapolis if he talks to players about these situations and reinforces that they are here to stay.
“I don’t get into all that,” Rivers said. “I can tell you that, again, none of this started from us. I gave Ben a call [Thursday] night. But I’m not going to share what we said. It’s unfortunate.
“But it’s part of our business ... it is what is.”
Rivers said it depends on the person in regards to feeling whether he has to reassure a player that he won’t be traded.
He noted that Simmons, 24, is young, and sometimes you need to talk to that player. But there are other times he doesn’t feel the need.
“And so, I always just call a player to check on him and, you know, get a read from where he is at,” Rivers said. “I feel very good about our conversation, you know, and now we can just move forward from it.”
The Sixers have been publicly adamant about keeping their All-Star tandem of Joel Embiid and Simmons intact, but Philadelphia keeps popping up as a prime destination for the disgruntled Rockets star. The 2018 league MVP informed the Rockets before training camp that he was open to being dealt to the Sixers.
Word leaked out that the Sixers had discussions with the Rockets about a possible Harden-Simmons swap.
That led to Morey issuing a response and Rivers calling his cornerstone player.