Ben Simmons has arrived in Philadelphia and taken a COVID-19 test in compliance with the NBA’s health and safety protocols, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The report arrives on the heels of a report earlier Monday that 76ers brass and Simmons’ agent Rich Paul had held conversations about the All-Star guard ending his holdout and returning to the team. Head coach Doc Rivers confirmed to reporters Monday afternoon that he had spoken with Paul, but declined to discuss the specifics of their conversations.
Simmons’ arrival was reportedly news not just to fans, but the Sixers as well.
After a tumultuous offseason on the heels of Philadelphia’s disappointing second-round playoff exit, Simmons didn’t report to training camp amid reported “bad blood” between himself and the team. He reportedly told the 76ers he wanted out of Philadelphia and was fined $360,000 for missing a preseason game. He faces the prospect of more fines as the preseason progresses, and the 76ers are reportedly holding more than $8 million of his $33 million salary for 2021-22 in escrow as the holdout continues.
The reported “bad blood” presumably stems from criticism over Simmons’ playoff performance and reports that the 76ers were shopping him on the trade market. Simmons was widely criticized for his unwillingness and inability to shoot during the playoffs.
His all-star teammate Joel Embiid referred to Simmons passing up a shot in a Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks as “the turning point” in the game.” When asked after the loss if he thought Simmons could be the point guard on a championship team, Rivers responded: “I don’t know the answer to that right now.”
Trade talks reportedly died down with suitors unwilling to pay Philadelphia’s asking price, leaving Simmons and the 76ers at an impasse prior to Monday’s reports.