PHILADELPHIA -- Discussions between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers gained momentum over the past days. Doc Rivers, 76ers coach, said Monday night that Philadelphia has desired Simmons to return from "day one", and that Simmons' teammates would welcome him back if he did.
Rivers stated, "Listen, from day one we've said what we wanted," before Philadelphia faced Rivers at Wells Fargo Center. We'd love him back.
"Aside from that, honestly, there's not much to report. "Our position hasn’t changed at any time."
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported Monday that Simmons could be back from his two-week absence. Although talks have continued between Simmons' agent Rich Paul in Philadelphia and Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul in Philadelphia, Wojnarowski was told by sources that Simmons could soon reach to team management, something that hasn’t happened since August's meeting in Los Angeles.
Simmons, who failed to report to the team for Monday's Brooklyn game, has already lost over $1 million in salary. Simmons has four years and $147 millions left on his maximum contract extension, which he signed in 2019, with $33 million this year.
Rivers was asked how Simmons would be received by his teammates, if he did return this week.
Rivers stated that players don't get involved with business. Rivers said, "That is the most overplayed thing I believe." This has happened before. I have been a player, and it has happened before. I'm a player and this has happened before.
"Guys want win. They do. You should believe me. Particularly if you are part of a team that has a chance at winning. They want to win and Ben is a man they can trust to help them win.
However, Simmons could be available to assist the Sixers in their win next week if he shows up. Rivers stated that he couldn’t be certain, but his assumption was that Simmons would be available for the game next Wednesday against the New Orleans Pelicans, and the home opener against Brooklyn on Friday against the Nets.
Rivers stated, "I don’t know [since] he hasn’t seen me," Rivers said, "My guess is yes, but it's not certain."
Rivers repeated that conversations with Paul were "very positive". This began after Philadelphia lost to the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Simmons missed a wide-open dunk that could've tied the game in less than four minutes. Philadelphia was unable to tie the game and ended its season.
Rivers was immediately asked if he was worried about Simmons' motivation to play if Simmons returns to the team, considering that Simmons had requested to be traded.
"No, I'm not," Rivers said. Rivers said, "No, I'm not," honestly. This has been done before, don't you think? We have. In different ways. My guess is that he will be available to play when he arrives.