NBA

76ers coach Rivers unsure if disgruntled Simmons will play for Philly after return

By Sports Desk October 13, 2021

Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers is not sure if wantaway All-Star Ben Simmons will play for the NBA franchise after his surprise return.

Simmons has sought a trade from the 76ers and had been willing to sit out the entire 2021-22 season before showing up at Wells Fargo Center shortly before tip-off ahead of Monday's preseason game against rivals the Brooklyn Nets.

Reports claim Simmons had not spoken directly to team officials since late August, having missed all of training camp and preseason following a disappointing Eastern Conference semi-final loss to the Atlanta Hawks last season.

Doubts remain over the disgruntled Australian and Rivers was ambiguous regarding Simmons' playing status for the championship hopefuls.

"I don't know. He's voiced that, but we'll see how that works out," Rivers told reporters when asked about Simmons' trade status on Wednesday.

Simmons has reportedly generated interest from the likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Indiana Pacers, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Portland Trail Blazers and Cleveland Cavaliers but the 76ers are believed to have set a high price.

It comes after Simmons was heavily scrutinised following Philadelphia's shock playoff elimination at the hands of the Hawks in 2020-21.

 

A three-time All-Star and elite defender, Simmons and his shooting problems were laid bare during the 2021 postseason with the top-seeded 76ers.

Former number one draft pick Simmons had no fourth-quarter field-goal attempts in his last four games of the playoffs last season. He is the only NBA player in the last 20 seasons to have four consecutive postseason games with no field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter during a season in which he was an All-Star, according to Stats Perform.

"I'm assuming he's going to play, but who knows? I can't get in anyone's head," Rivers said with the 76ers due to meet the Detroit Pistons on Friday before opening their regular-season campaign against the New Orleans Pelicans on October 20.

Rivers added: "Whether we play him or not, that's going to depend on what we see this week.

"He's coming from behind, because he hasn't been in camp, obviously. Having said that, do you rush him and put him on the floor? That's a whole other subject.

"What we see this week is how we determine everything going forward."

Simmons averaged just 10.1 field-goal attempts in 2020-21 – a career low, which dropped to 7.9 in the playoffs. It was the same story with his scoring as it dropped to a career-worst 14.3 points per game and 11.9 in the postseason – both career lows.

Then there is Simmons and free throws. He was exposed by rival teams as they regularly sent him to the line, with the Melbourne-born guard making just 25 of 73 shots in the 2020-21 playoffs. His 34.2 free-throw percentage is the lowest ever in a single postseason.

Sixers team-mate Danny Green said: "We want him back. We want him with us. When he's in the building, we'll acclimate him appropriately. We just want everybody to come here, show up and do their part, do their jobs."

"I'll be able to see when he steps on the floor where his head's at. I don't feel like he needs to explain anything to me," added Seth Curry.

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    Philadelphia 76ers general manager Daryl Morey says the Ben Simmons saga could be drawn out for four years as he remains unflinching in the standoff.

    Simmons was suspended by the Sixers for conduct detrimental to the team before failing to appear at an individual workout on Thursday, following the side's season-opening 117-97 win over the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Three-time NBA All-Star Simmons has demanded a trade amid criticism following last season's shock playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks. He was absent from Philadelphia for the first two weeks of preseason work before showing up on October 11 to begin fulfilling COVID-19 protocols that would allow him to re-join the championship-chasing franchise.

    The situation has not improved internally with team-mate Joel Embiid admitting he would not "baby-sit" Simmons, while head coach Doc Rivers said the predicament was not fun.

    Morey added on Thursday that the Sixers would not trade Simmons as they were not satisfied what they could get in return would help them win an NBA title with their window open now. As a result, Morey said the icy situation could drag on.

    "You're going to think I'm kidding, I'm not, this could be four years," Morey told the Mike Missanelli Show. "The conditions I'm pointing out to you don't change.

    "People should buckle in, this is gonna go a long time because my only job is to help give us the best chance to win the title.

    "Unless Ben Simmons is traded for a difference-maker, we're in the prime of Joel [Embiid]'s career. We have to get back either Ben Simmons playing well for us, who helps us win the championship, or we have to get back a difference-maker for Ben Simmons. Or this could be four years from now, and we're still like, 'Hey, we took the best shot at it we could'.

    "This could be four years. This is not day-to-day. Every day, we're going to expect Ben Simmons to be back here, or we're trading him for a difference-maker.

    "There's no other outcome that doesn't materially hurt our chance to win the championship in Joel Embiid's prime.

    "We would want him to play and be back starting tomorrow. But if he chooses to take some other path, that's his choice."

    The 76ers had the best record in the Eastern Conference regular season at 49-23 before losing to the Hawks in the Conference semifinals.

  • MLB playoffs 2021: Soler cleared to return for Braves ahead of NLCS Game 5 MLB playoffs 2021: Soler cleared to return for Braves ahead of NLCS Game 5

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    The Braves opened up a 3-1 NLCS lead with Wednesday's 9-2 victory, leaving the World Series champions needing to win three elimination games to progress.

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    The 2019 American League run leader hit .269 with 14 home runs and 33 RBIs across 55 games for Atlanta after his trade deadline deal from the Kansas City Royals.

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  • West Ham 3-0 Genk: Hammers cruise to go six points clear in Group H West Ham 3-0 Genk: Hammers cruise to go six points clear in Group H

    West Ham are making light work of Europa League Group H as they made it three wins from as many matches with Thursday's 3-0 defeat of Genk.

    The Belgians travelled to London having lost four of their previous five matches across all competitions and West Ham piled on the misery to go six points clear at the top of the group.

    Genk looked bright during the early exchanges but West Ham grew into the occasion and went ahead on the stroke of half-time, Craig Dawson's looping header finding the net.

    West Ham put the game beyond Genk with a quickfire double just before the hour, Issa Diop and then Jarrod Bowen scoring 72 seconds apart to leave David Moyes' men on the brink of qualification for the knockout phase.

    West Ham briefly appeared to have fallen behind early on as Theo Bongonda's diving header found the net, but the hosts were let off the hook as Junya Ito strayed offside in the build-up.

    Maarten Vandevoordt was alert to prevent Jhon Lucumi putting into his own goal from an Aaron Cresswell cross just before half-time, though the Hammers did get the breakthrough from the resulting corner.

    Dawson beat two markers in the air to meet Cresswell's delivery and Bryan Heynen could not prevent the header finding the top-left corner.

    Another Cresswell set-piece brought West Ham's second goal, Diop seeing his header go in off the crossbar in the 57th minute.

    A little more than a minute later, the Premier League side wrapped up the win as Manuel Lanzini found Bowen, the winger ran at the heart of the Genk defence and his shot squirmed past Vandevoordt.

    What does it mean? Hammers a cut above

    Genk certainly had their moments here, with Paul Onuachu threatening in the first half, Ito generally looking lively and that early disallowed goal, but West Ham were clinical and far more authoritative in the final third.

    It will take something remarkable from here to deny West Ham top spot in Group H, even if only one of their next three Europa League games is at home.

    They are making light work of a group that could have been problematic.

    Cresswell? More like cross well…

    West Ham left-back Cresswell was really bright here. His deliveries were a regular source of danger and two of them led to goals. Of course, praise should be reserved for Diop and Dawson for making the most of those crosses, but Cresswell put them into the right areas and you cannot ask for much more than that.

    Johnson fades into the background

    To say he played the full game, had the third-most touches (84) of anyone on the pitch, Ben Johnson did not offer a huge amount. He did not manage to play any key passes, and it was not as if he worked tirelessly off the ball either, as he was only involved in four duels in his whole outing.

    What's next?

    These two meet again on the next Europa League matchday, as West Ham travel to Belgium on November 4.

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