Ben Simmons' shock move stuns 76ers officials in NBA stand-off

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·Sports Reporter
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Ben Simmons surprised 76ers officials by unexpectedly showing up at the team's stadium for a regulation Covid test, breaking a weeks-long standoff. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons surprised 76ers officials by unexpectedly showing up at the team's stadium for a regulation Covid test, breaking a weeks-long standoff. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

Ben Simmons has shocked Philadelphia 76ers management by showing up at the team's arena out of the blue on Tuesday.

It had emerged earlier in the day that Simmons and his agent, Rich Paul, were reaching out to the team to begin the process of rejoining the team after holding out during training camp and pre-season.

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Simmons had no-showed in a bid to force a trade away from the 76ers after a disastrous playoff exit last season.

A suitable trade has yet to materialise and is unlikely to before the season begins, with most of the NBA's other teams preferring to enter the season with a settled roster.

With that in mind, Simmons appears to have decided enough is enough.

According to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, 76ers officials were caught off-guard when Simmons arrived at the team's facility for a standard Covid test prior to the team's pre-season contest against Brooklyn.

"Sixers were unaware Simmons was flying into Philadelphia today," Wojnarowski tweeted. 

"The organisation was in constant contact with agent Rich Paul, but Simmons simply showed up at arena to take his Covid test prior to Sixers-Nets tip — and that's when team officials knew he was in town."

Earlier in the day it had emerged that Simmons and Paul were on contact with the 76ers to plan out his re-integration into the team.

Head coach Doc Rivers was also part of the discussions, but nobody was aware Simmons would simply walk into the team's facility later that day.

"The plan remains for the Sixers to continue canvassing the league for trades, but the possibility of Simmons reporting to the team has increased in recent days," Wojnarowski reported earlier in the day.

"The organisations hopes are unchanged: Get Simmons back into Philadelphia, onto the court and ultimately convince him that it's still the place for the long-term."

Philadelphia 76ers caught off-guard by Ben Simmons' surprise return

Speaking prior to knowledge of Simmons' return to the team, Rivers reiterated the team's desire to have the Australian star on the court when the regular season began.

Rivers said the plan all along was to have Simmons on the floor.

“Listen, we've said from day one what we wanted,” Rivers said ahead of the pre-season game against Brooklyn.

“We'd love to get him back.

“Other than that, honestly, there's nothing to report. Our position hasn't changed at all.”

Star teammate Joel Embiid, who Simmons has had a good but at times strained on-court relationship with, said he was confident Simmons would fit back into the team easily.

Despite talk emerging from Simmons' camp that the Australian star no longer wanted to play alongside the dominant big man, Embiid said both players would be able to focus on the bigger prize of an NBA championship.

Ben Simmons is reportedly coming around to re-joining the 76ers, but it remains to be seen how tenable the partnership with the team will be in the long-term. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Ben Simmons is reportedly coming around to re-joining the 76ers, but it remains to be seen how tenable the partnership with the team will be in the long-term. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

"Personally, I haven't talked to him since the season ended," Embiid said. 

"Obviously, I tried but wasn't successful. A lot of my teammates have (also tried). 

"It is unfortunate the whole situation happened ... I think there's going to be some adjustments, but it doesn't need to be awkward. 

"We're all professionals."

After the mess of last season's play-offs exit and comments made by Rivers and Embiid about Simmons, the coach has attempted to hose down any potential issues in the locker room, should the star guard return.

"Other than that first 10 minutes of welcome back and taking the crap from your teammates about missing camp and stuff, guys want to win," Rivers said.

"They want to win and they look at Ben as a guy that can help them do that."

Opening night for the Sixers is October 20 in New Orleans, with Rivers still hopeful Simmons could be available to face the Pelicans.

"My guess is when, if he comes, I think he'll be ready to play," Rivers said.

With AAP

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