The freeze-out between Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers could be coming to an end.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Sixers brass and Simmons' agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, have been engaged in talks to get Simmons back in Philly. And the discussions are reportedly moving in a positive direction.
Sixers officials and Klutch CEO Rich Paul have progressed in talks over recent days on a resolution to bring All-Star Ben Simmons back to Philadelphia in the near future, sources tell ESPN. Discussions are ongoing.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 11, 2021
Head coach Doc Rivers declined to talk about what was discussed, but confirmed on Monday that he has spoken with Paul about Simmons' potential return. Per ESPN's Tim Bontemps, Rivers said that "our position hasn't changed at all" regarding the team's stance on Simmons. Rivers said that he hasn't spoken directly with Simmons.
Doc Rivers: “I’m not gonna talk about what Rich and I have talked about,” but that part of those conversations have been about Simmons wanting to come back to play. Says he isn’t worried about Simmons not being committed, or players not welcoming him back. https://t.co/cqQgmt2Gj2
— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) October 11, 2021
End of the Simmons saga?
Things have been frosty between Simmons and the Sixers (and Sixers fans) since the disappointing end of their 2020-21 season. Simmons' reluctance to shoot the ball ended up being a major factor in their Eastern Conference semifinals loss to the Atlanta Hawks, which unleashed a torrent of criticism about his effort and style of play.
The Simmons drama engulfed the Sixers' offseason. They reportedly opened up trade talks in July, but with a price tag so outlandish that the Golden State Warriors eventually walked away from a possible deal. By the end of August, Simmons reportedly told the Sixers he wanted out. By mid-September, he reportedly never wanted to play for the Sixers ever again and was prepared to skip training camp if he wasn't traded.
Once Simmons was a no-show at training camp, a new wrinkle appeared: he reportedly didn't want to play with star Joel Embiid anymore, and he turned away teammates who wanted to visit with him to convince him to come back. The Sixers then fined him $360,000 for missing a preseason game, money that he won't be able to get back. Philly was already withholding 25 percent of his $33 million salary ($8 million) for being away from the team.
That brings us up to date, with Simmons apparently getting closer to returning to Philadelphia. That doesn't mean the Sixers will stop trying to trade him, but at least he'll be back with the team until that happens.