New York (AFP)
ESPN announced Monday that the Philadelphia 76ers Basketball Club and coach Doc Rivers are in talks with the agent of Australian star Ben Simmons, regarding his return to the club “starting this week.”
It is expected that Simmons will resume a personal dialogue with the club’s management, which he has not done since the end of last August. The 25-year-old Australian refused to appear in the NBA prep camp, after he announced on September 22 that he wanted to leave the Sixers.
His Cameroonian teammate Joel Embiid accused him of insulting his teammates during a meeting with the media on September 30. Responding to the words from Simons’ inner circle, Embiid said one of the main reasons he wanted to leave was his feeling that the team was built to meet the Cameroonian’s ambitions on the field: the situation is disappointing, a kind of disrespect for all the players here fighting.
“It was amazing to see that, we got rid of Jimmy Butler just to make sure Simmons needed the ball in his hands, and that’s the decision they made.” As I said, these statements are surprising. Earlier this month, Ambied also responded to reports of a rift between him and Simmons, and confirmed that he hoped the latter would stay at the club.
He said, “I like to play with Ben. The numbers don’t lie. He’s an amazing player and we all didn’t deliver from him in the end. I hope everyone comes back because we are good enough to win.”
Simmons had informed the Sixers’ management of his desire to leave the club and refused to participate in pre-season training.
Speculation has revolved around Simmons’ future in Philadelphia, since the team lost the seventh game to the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals last season (3-4), where Simmons’ offensive performance in the last quarter did not live up to ambitions.
Simmons’ performance raised questions with head coach Doc Rivers about the Australian playmaker’s ability to properly fill the crucial roles.
Rivers has since sought to smoothen things out. “I miss him,” he said. “I’ve always defended him.” I love the way he plays. Unfortunately, we focused so much on his attack that we didn’t focus on a lot of the other things he was doing. ESPN added Monday that President Daryl Morey and Rivers are now hoping to persuade Simmons to stay in Philadelphia for the long-term.