Isn’t this supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love?
While estranged Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons has yet to address his situation in Philadelphia, a new report by ESPN claims Simmons is “upset” with his teammate Joel Embiid over “critical postgame comments” the center made after the series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs last June.
Simmons has yet to play this season after he asked for a trade in the offseason and skipped training camp, though he reportedly watches every Sixers game.
Sources close to Simmons told ESPN that the 25-year-old is “upset” that Embiid appeared to blame the guard for the top-seeded Sixers’ second-round loss to the Hawks last year after Simmons did not call Embiid out for playing poorly during the team’s second-round loss to the Raptors in 2019.
Simmons shot 34.2 percent from the free-throw line in the playoffs last year. In the seven-game series against Atlanta, Simmons attempted just three shots in the fourth quarter — none of which occurred in the series’ final four games.
After the 76ers-Hawks series ended, Embiid never placed blame directly on Simmons. He did, though, appear to reference Simmons’ blunder in the fourth quarter of Game 7, when he passed the ball to Matisse Thybulle instead of going for a wide-open layup or dunk. Thybulle was fouled and made one of two free throws.
At the time, Embiid said, “I’ll be honest. I thought the turning point was when we… I don’t know how to say it, but I thought the turning point was just when we had an open shot and we made one free throw and we missed the other, and then they came down and scored.”
Sixers coach Doc Rivers also came under fire for his comments after the Game 7 loss when a reporter asked: “Do you think Ben Simmons can still be a point guard for a championship team like the one you guys want to become?”
At the time, Rivers said, “Yeah, I don’t’ know that question or the answer to that right now.” His response started a narrative that he didn’t believe the Sixers could win a title with Simmons.
According to ESPN, Simmons “is frustrated that Rivers didn’t come to see him while he was training in Los Angeles last summer” — when the point guard requested a trade amid his holdout from the team.
Simmons doesn’t dispute that he did not reply when Rivers contacted him several times over the summer in an effort to meet up at some point, according to the report. It didn’t stop Simmons from feeling the coach and the organization didn’t do enough, like show up to one of his training sessions at a well-known gym in the San Fernando Valley.
Rivers later clarified his comments in a September appearance on “ESPN’s “First Take” and said he does believe Philadelphia could win with Simmons.
Simmons has reportedly been working out privately at the Sixers’ practice facility in Camden, N.J., and attends team shootarounds and film sessions to avoid being fined even more.
According to ESPN, Simmons has been fined more than $19 million since the start of the season and could lose $12 million more if he doesn’t play the remainder of the year. But that doesn’t appear to bother Simmons.
“We don’t give a f–k about the money,” a source close to Simmons told ESPN.
The report by ESPN also lists a number of issues Simmons has with the 76ers, including when the team had discussions about dealing him for James Harden after the trade deadline last year.