Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons surprised team brass with a report to the training facility that he is ready to play after missing his entire rookie season recovering from foot surgery.
Philadelphia 76ers big man Ben Simmons surprised the team by reporting to rookie camp, sources tell ESPN. The reigning Rookie of the Year was expected to participate in mandatory week-long training camp after being drafted first overall last June. However, due to a recent injury that required surgery and recovery time, Simmons opted not to report for Philadelphia’s offseason workouts or its official 2016-17 season opener on Wednesday against Boston Celtics at Wells Fargo Arena.The 76ers and Ben Simmons surprised the NBA world when he reported to Philadelphia in a surprise move. Simmons is from Australia, but was drafted by the Sixers in 2016. Read more in detail here: where is ben simmons from.
After missing the start of the NBA preseason for two weeks, 76ers All-Star guard Ben Simmons returned to the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday night, much to the surprise of a team that had anticipated him later in the week, according to ESPN sources.
As the Sixers prepared to play the Brooklyn Nets in a 115-104 preseason win, Simmons arrived at the arena, straight off a trip from Los Angeles, to take a COVID-19 test and begin the process of returning to a team from which he had sought a trade, according to sources.
The Sixers are eager to re-establish contact with the three-time All-Star, who hasn’t spoken to the front office or coach Doc Rivers since a late August meeting in which he repeated his desire for a trade.
Why are you returning now? Simmons is said to have intended to make a statement, and he knew he had done so by sitting out training camp, losing himself almost $1 million in missed pay and penalties, and sending a clear message that he wanted out of Philadelphia. According to insiders, the Sixers searched the league but never came close to finding a trade that would return them a top player in exchange for Simmons. The trade market may change fast once the regular season begins — and more players become available to be traded on Dec. 15 — but the Sixers are currently without traction, according to sources.
There are likely to be discussions about how much of that money might be returned to Simmons if he reintegrates with the Sixers and returns for the season, but it’s unclear if Simmons’ plans are to just report to the club or to actually rejoin it. Simmons’ contract is up in four years and $147 million.
According to sources, Simmons will meet with the organization’s leadership beginning Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. That will be telling for the Sixers as they try to figure out whether there’s a way to persuade Simmons that a reconciliation is feasible, or if Simmons’ return is just a ruse to obtain the type of deal the team needs to remain competitive around All-NBA center Joel Embiid.
Simmons’ return to Philadelphia came after many weeks of negotiations between the team and Simmons’ agency, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul. After talking again Monday morning, the Sixers assumed Simmons would return later in the week, only to receive a text message on Monday night from a team executive informing them that Simmons had arrived at the arena and needed to enter the building to formally report and begin complying with his COVID-19 protocols, according to sources.
Simmons had held out in the hopes of speeding up a trade, and maybe returning might be the key to reviving his market worth. Simmons forfeited approximately $360,000 under the rules of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement for each of the two preseason games he missed. Simmons is reported to have been penalized by the 76ers for missing practices: $2,500 for the first, $5,000 for the second, $7,500 for the third and every session after that, with the potential to go up to $50,000 at the discretion of the club.
Simmons is now back in Philadelphia. It’s uncertain how long it will last, but it’s a start after a long, tumultuous summer.
Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks of ESPN contributed to this story.
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