The Philadelphia 76ers are in the midst of a trade saga with All-Star guard Ben Simmons. Following the team’s second round departure from the 2021 NBA playoffs, the two sides have seemed to be headed towards a breakup, with Simmons’ camp escalating things in recent weeks by stressing he has no intention of ever suiting up for the team again, to the point that he will not report to training camp and will pay fines handed to him by the organization.
On Wednesday, Sixers coach Doc Rivers appeared on First Take and tried to do damage control. In an interview with Stephen A. Smith, Rivers stressed that despite Simmons’ desire to leave, the team wants to do what it can to convince him to come back.
Doc Rivers on Ben Simmons informing the 76ers that he wants to be traded;
"I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back. And if we can, we're going to try to do that. pic.twitter.com/JeWoIE3W7U
— First Take (@FirstTake) September 22, 2021
“We’re gonna go through it, we’re gonna always do what’s best for the team, but I can tell you up front, we would love to get Ben back,” Rivers said. “And if we can, we’re gonna try to do that. You know, Ben has a long contract. It’s in our hands and we want him back.”
Rivers pushed back against Smith’s question about his comments after the team’s Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks, saying that he was misquoted by the media and that he never said he was unsure if Simmons could be a championship-level point guard, which has drawn some scrutiny.
Here is Doc Rivers' explanation along with the question Stephen A was trying to ask.
—It was the fifth question of the presser, not all on Ben (2 from Ky Carlin, 1 from Tom Moore, 1 from Marcus Hayes, then Murphy's question)
—This is not even close to what he said pic.twitter.com/7Z4lgvvnav
— Kyle Neubeck (@KyleNeubeck) September 22, 2021
Smith went on to ask about Simmons being willing to sit out the season instead of playing for the team, and Rivers made clear that he’s hopeful Simmons’ approach can change in the coming days and weeks.
“That may be where he’s at today, that may not be where he’s at tomorrow, you just don’t know,” Rivers said. “And that’s why we just got to keep communicating and see where we can take this. But you are right, he has four years left on his contract, it’s in our hands.”
While Rivers said his expectation is that Simmons gets “back in the fold” and that the team can move forward. However, he was also clear that he understands this might not happen.
“If that doesn’t happen, I don’t have an expectation, because I don’t know where we would go,” Rivers said. “That will happen if it happens. But right now, Ben is still part of this team, and I’m gonna focus on that part of it.”
The Sixers will begin training camp on Sept. 28, 2021.