After staying away for two weeks during the start of the NBA preseason, 76ers All-Star point guard Ben Simmons showed up at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Monday night, to the surprise of an organization that I was expecting it later in the week, sources told ESPN.
As the Sixers approached a 115-104 preseason victory over the Brooklyn Nets, Simmons, fresh off a flight from Los Angeles, entered the arena to take a COVID-19 test and begin the process of returning to a franchise. of which he requested an exchange, the sources said.
What comes next is unclear, but the Sixers are desperate to re-establish communication with the three-time All-Star who hasn’t had a direct conversation with head office or coach Doc Rivers since a meeting in late August at the You reiterated your desire for a change.
Why go back now? Simmons is described as wanting to prove a point and knowing that he did it with something that almost never happens in the NBA: skipping training camp, costing nearly $ 1 million in lost wages and fines, and communicating an unmistakable message that he wanted a game. Philadelphia swap. The Sixers heeded offers but were never close to finding a deal that would return the kind of elite player they want in exchange for Simmons, sources said. The exchange market can move quickly once the regular season begins, and more players are eligible to be moved on Dec. 15, but the Sixers have no traction in a trade now, sources said.
It is expected that there will be talks about how much of that money could be returned to Simmons should he rejoin the Sixers and return for the season, but it is currently unclear whether Simmons’ intentions are simply to report to the team or to rejoin it. . Simmons has four years and $ 147 million remaining on his contract.
Simmons would meet with the organization’s leadership starting Tuesday at the team’s practice facility, the sources said. That will be eye-opening as the organization begins to find out if there is an opportunity to convince Simmons that a reconciliation is possible, or if the return of Simmons is simply what it takes to get the kind of trade the Sixers want to remain. contenders with All-NBA center Joel Embiid.
Simmons ‘arrival concluded several weeks of discussions between the organization and Simmons’ agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul, to get Simmons back to Philadelphia. After speaking again Monday morning, the Sixers were under the impression that Simmons would likely return later in the week, only for a team executive to receive a text message Monday night with Simmons arriving at the arena and the need to enter to formally report and begin complying with COVID-19 protocols, sources said.
Simmons stayed away in hopes of accelerating change, and perhaps coming back could become the answer to reinvigorating his market value. Under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, Simmons lost approximately $ 360,000 for each of the two preseason games he missed. The 76ers are believed to have fined Simmons for missed practices: $ 2,500 for the first, $ 5,000 for the second, $ 7,500 for the third and each subsequent practice, at the discretion of the team, with the possibility of raising up to $ 50,000.
For now, Simmons is back in Philadelphia. It’s unclear how long, but after a long and bitter summer, it’s a start.
With information from ESPN’s Tim Bontemps and Bobby Marks.