Simmons makes surprise return
In another wild twist to the saga, Ben Simmons made an unannounced return before playoff game.
When the Philadelphia 76ers played the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, many fans expected the game to be a regular preseason game, where established players would be warming up for the season and those without a confirmed role would try and impress teams in hopes for a place on a team’s roster. All was going well until a 6-foot-10-inch Australian who had been missing from the team since June strolled through the doors of the Wells Fargo Center in downtown Philadelphia.
After four months of zero contact, Ben Simmons’ sudden return to the team is another wild twist to a seemingly never ending saga. Simmons, who held out from the team in hopes of being traded from Philadelphia during the opening stages of the season, seemed adamant in his willingness to follow through with his absence. Following a series of fines which accrued to over a million dollars, Simmons certainly made a point to the Sixers organization of his unwillingness to play for the team. While Simmons made his trade demands clear, his trade value seemed to fall further and further the longer he spent in his holdout, which could be one reason why he decided to return. Moreover, given the fact that he contacted the NBA Players Association, the official labor union of the league, about recouping the salary lost to fines, the financial losses incurred by the holdout are most likely another significant factor for his return.
Following his return, Simmons is undergoing COVID-19 protocol and remains separated from the team. He is not expected to play in any of the remaining preseason games, as he needs to recondition his body for the regular season. Since he has not publicly made any comments indicating that his desire to be traded has changed, it is expected that he still wants to be traded, albeit with less confidence that being absent from his duties would help the cause. He will likely be reintegrated into the team in some shape or form and will probably play for the team for at least a part of the season.
Simmons’ teammates seem to be ambivalent towards his return, with fellow starter Danny Green being quoted as saying: “We just want everybody to come here, show up and do their jobs. I’m not asking him to do anything different than he normally does. Just show up to work and do what you normally do for us.” Since the drama surrounding Simmons is more between him and the organization rather than him and his teammates, there should not be a significant rift between the other players and Simmons.
Simmons’ return should only be seen as a positive by the front office as his trade value now has some room to grow after continual decline over the summer. After all, Ben Simmons is still a three-time All-Star who has been a strong favorite to win the Defensive Player of the Year Award. While his jump shot situation is still a major question mark that becomes bolder and bolder every year, there is no doubt that as a relatively young player, there is still some room for improvement. Some time this season or during the next season, Simmons will most likely get traded, but for now, Sixer fans should hold on tight and expect him to be around for a little while longer.