By DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) – The 76ers and disgruntled All-Star portrayal Ben Simmons are working on a fix for the goalie who could potentially see him join the team.
“Obviously that’s what we want, otherwise we wouldn’t be talking if it wasn’t part of it,” coach Doc Rivers said Monday night.
Simmons missed training camp and preseason over his offseason commercial claim that left the Sixers without their triple All-Star – and Simmons lost millions in wages and fines. The 25-year-old Australian still has $ 147 million and four years on his contract.
Rivers said he didn’t speak to Simmons during the resistance, only to Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul. Sixers president Daryl Morey has made offers for Simmons, but has yet to find a package to his satisfaction that would keep the Sixers among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Morey and Rivers have been publicly optimistic since the start of training camp that Simmons would play for the Sixers again. Rivers said he was unsure if the situation could be resolved this week.
But the possibility of a reunion – as far-fetched as it once seemed – might be on the horizon.
“We said from day one what we wanted,” said Rivers. “We would love to find him. Other than that, honestly, there is nothing to report.
Rivers said conversations with Klutch “have been good throughout, honestly” and there was no animosity on either side.
The bottom line of resistance may very well be just about the bottom line; the more games and practices Simmons misses, the more money he loses. Show up in Philadelphia, and while he never gambles, the financial bleeding begins to subside.
Simmons, the No.1 pick in the 2016 Draft, had been linked with Joel Embiid as cornerstones of the franchise as the Sixers pursued their first NBA championship since 1983. Simmons, however, was most blamed for the Sixers, leading series. exit in the second round of the playoffs last season. He shot 34% from the free throw line in the playoffs and was reluctant to attempt a shot from anywhere on the floor late in the game.
Rivers and Embiid both made sharp comments about Simmons following the Game 7 loss to Atlanta.
Rivers said his “I don’t know” response to whether Simmons could be a championship playmaker was taken out of context. Embiid refused to back down and said in the camp that the melodrama was “bizarre, disappointing, bordering on disrespecting all the guys here who are fighting for their lives.”
Rivers downplayed potential problems in the locker room, should Simmons return.
“Other than the first 10 minutes of ‘welcome’ and making fun of your teammates about being out of camp and stuff, the guys want to win,” Rivers said. “They want to win and they see Ben as a guy who can help them do it.”
Could Simmons actually start opening night on October 20 in New Orleans?
“I guess if he comes I think he’ll be ready to play,” Rivers said.
Rivers defused the situation, opening his pre-game press conference by saying, “Hello everyone, I have a statement to make.” As questions about Simmons kept coming in before the Sixers played the Brooklyn Nets, Rivers said, “You know we have a game today, don’t you?”
The Sixers played without injured pointers Ty Maxey and Shake Milton.
So what about the playmaker’s situation?
“Well, we don’t have one,” Rivers said.
Help, still perhaps unlikely, could be on the way.
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