76ers coach's last-ditch attempt to keep Ben Simmons

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Seen here, Ben Simmons warms up before a match for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Ben Simmons' future in Philadelphia is shrouded in doubt. Pic: Getty

The ugly drama surrounding Ben Simmons' future at Philadelphia has taken another twist, with 76ers coach Doc Rivers insisting he's "not going to give up" on the Aussie star, despite reports the 25-year-old never wants to play for the franchise again.

Simmons, a three-time NBA All-Star entering the second year of a lucrative five-year, $177 million maximum contract he signed in July 2019, requested a trade from the team soon after their disastrous collapse in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

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The Aussie star was gutted after being made out to be the scapegoat of the 76ers' NBA finals defeat and obviously feels like he's been hung out to dry in Philadelphia.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported this week that Simmons and his team have made it clear he does not intend to return the team's training camp, despite the possibility of copping fines of more than $300,000 for every day he's absent.

Despite suggestions Simmons is determined to force a trade to another franchise, 76ers coach Rivers says he is determine to do everything in his power to convince the Aussie to stay.

Rivers appeared on ESPN's "First Take" with Stephen A. Smith where the outspoken commentator asked the coach about reports Simmons wants out of Philly.

"Yeah, we hear it all, Stephen A, and that's fine, but we're not going to give up on that," Rivers said.

The 76ers coach confirmed that Simmons had requested a trade but said it was merely the first part of a longer conversation and that he was desperate to hang onto the Aussie star.

"Well, I hope we can change that thought," Rivers told ESPN's "Keyshawn, JWill & Max" on Wednesday morning. "That's part of our job."

Tuesday's ESPN report said the three-time All-Star has not spoken to Philadelphia team officials since last month and appears determined to force the Sixers to find a trade partner.

The 25-year-old could be fined and/or suspended if he skips training camp, which opens on September 28.

His relationship with the franchise soured during the 2021 NBA playoffs. The 76ers, the No.1 seeds in the Eastern Conference, lost to the Atlanta Hawks in seven games in the second round.

Ben Simmons still seen as key man for 76ers

"The greatest thing in sports is you fail at times and then you get back on the horse and try," Rivers said.

"You would be amazed if I told you how many times through a summer when you don't win, which is 29 teams, how often you have to go through something similar to this. Because losing's hard. People internalise it, and you have to deal with it. So we're going to deal with this."

Pictured here, Ben Simmons take the ball up for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Atlanta Hawks in the NBA finals series.
Ben Simmons in action for the Philadelphia 76ers against the Atlanta Hawks in game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Pic: Getty

Rivers said he still sees Simmons as a key component of a team that could win the NBA title.

"Not much, but we've had some," he said of the conversations he had with Simmons over the summer.

"And I get his feelings. I understand where he's at right now, but we're going to keep trying to work on it to get him in the right place."

Simmons is a talented playmaker and defender, but his inability - or unwillingness - to take shots proved costly during the series with the Hawks.

Simmons infamously passed up a wide-open potential game-tying dunk in favour of passing to a tightly covered Matisse Thybulle with minutes left in the Game 7 loss to the Atlanta Hawks during the Eastern Conference semifinals.

It was indicative of Simmons' career-long aversion to shooting, a weakness in his game that has prevented the former No.1 overall pick from reaching his potential as a franchise superstar.

He also drew criticism for his performance at the foul line, making just 34.2 percent of his attempts (25 of 73) in 12 playoff games after shooting 61.3 percent during the regular season.

The No.1 overall pick in 2016, Simmons has started all 275 games he has played in four NBA seasons, all with the 76ers. He owns career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game.

Simmons has four years left on a five-year, $US177.2 million ($A244 million) max contract extension he signed in July 2019. His base salary for the 2021-22 season is a reported $US33 million ($A45 million).

with agencies

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