Ahead of the Philadelphia 76ers’ home game Friday night with the Brooklyn Nets, Ben Simmons has informed the team he is not mentally prepared to play, according to multiple reports.
Sixers star Joel Embiid is also listed as questionable for the game with right knee soreness, while Simmons had officially been listed as doubtful with “return to competition reconditioning.” Simmons, who has complained of back stiffness, reportedly left the team’s practice facility in Camden, N.J. Thursday without practicing.
The Nets will also continue to be without seven-time All-Star guard Kyrie Irving for the game after he was banned from the team until he gets a Covid-19 vaccination or until New York City regulations change.
The 76ers on Tuesday suspended Simmons for Wednesday’s season-opener at New Orleans for “conduct detrimental to the team” after he reportedly refused to participate in a defensive drill that head coach Doc Rivers asked him to do.
“Ben Simmons has been suspended for one game due to conduct detrimental to the team,” the Sixers said in a statement. “As a result, Simmons will miss the 76ers’ season opener at New Orleans tomorrow night.”
The Sixers host the Thunder Sunday before visiting the Knicks Tuesday.
Simmons, who returned to Philadelphia from Los Angeles last Friday, has expressed his desire to be traded but the Sixers are holding out to make sure they get a commensurate talent in return.
“People should buckle in. This is going to take a long time,” Sixers GM Daryl Morey said in a radio interview with 97.5 The Fanatic on Thursday, per ESPN.
He is due to make $33 million this season and has four years and $147 million left on his contract.
Simmons’ behavior since returning to Philadelphia could be hurting his trade stock, ESPN’s Kendrick Perkins said, adding that if he were another team considering trading for Simmons, “I might pull back a little bit.”
On Tuesday, Embiid said it wasn’t the team’s job to “babysit somebody.”
“At this point I don’t care about that man, honestly,” Embiid told reporters. “He does whatever he wants.
“At the end of the day, our job is not to babysit somebody. We get paid to produce on the court, go out, play hard, win some games, that’s all we get paid for. We don’t get paid to come out here and try to babysit somebody. That’s not our job and I’m sure my teammates feel that way.”
A large portion of the Sixers fan base has been angry with Simmons since the NBA playoffs last season when he famously passed off an open dunk attempt in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Atlanta Hawks and was seemingly afraid to shoot.
Asked after the game if Simmons could be a championship point guard, Rivers said, “I don’t know.”
Rivers has since said his comments were misrepresented.
“I was basically saying, ‘I’m not answering that crap,’” Rivers said last month. “Those questions. What disappointed me, and I don’t do this media thing very often. It was being portrayed that I was out there saying, ‘I don’t think we can win with Ben,’ And I do.”
Embiid said last month that Simmons’ holdout was “borderline disrespectful to the team.”
“The situation is disappointing, borderline kind of disrespectful to all the guys that are out here fighting for their lives,” Embiid said.