Ben Simmons reportedly showed up to the 76ers’ practice facility Thursday and was expected to participate in an individual workout, but left the facility after receiving treatment for what he called back tightness despite being cleared by team doctors to participate in the workout.
Thursday’s news on Simmons comes from dueling reports by ESPN insider Adrian Wojnarowski and The Athletic insider Shams Charania.
Wojnarowski reported that the team hoped Simmons would participate in the workout Thursday, and would then go through shootaround Friday before the Sixers’ home opener against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. But after being treated for the back tightness, he left.
Charania then reported that Simmons is not “mentally ready” to play for the team, and will miss the Nets game.
It all feels completely absurd.
Even if Simmons’ back is indeed tight, the timing is simply too convenient to ignore. Simmons doesn’t want to play for the Sixers, but he also doesn’t want to be fined for refusing to do his job, hence him returning to Philadelphia in the first place. The suspension provided him cover for game one, but those fines were going to start stacking quickly if he didn’t have a reason to miss games as the season continues.
Enter a perfectly-timed bout of back tightness.
Now, Charania’s follow-up report about not being mentally prepared to play is interesting, because it provides added cover for Simmons in case the back tightness explanation dwindles. And it’s probably the closest thing we’ve received from Simmons’ camp to the truth, the guy isn’t ready to play a game in front of Sixers fans because they’d boo him back to Australia.
After that, the king, Howard Eskin of 94.1 WIP reported that Simmons is faking the back injury and mental illness. Eskin said he “came in Thursday and said he had back stiffness and is mentally not ready to play. Mental illness is a serious issue and team is livid Simmons went down that road. Team plans to fine him every game.”
The whole situation is dumb, but it seems we won’t be seeing Simmons on the sideline any time soon. Ideally, he will be traded in the coming days. If not, we’ll probably get more inane updates about a guy who would rather be anywhere else.