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Drama between Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers takes a weird turn

Star point guard Ben Simmons and his Philadelphia 76ers are pretty much the equivalent to a reality television series right now.

Simmons, 25, has sat out each of Philadelphia’s first 12 games this season as he deals with self-described mental health issues. All of this comes on the heels of Simmons requesting a trade from the organization following a disastrous performance in the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

As the two sides remain at a standstill, we continue to hear this debate rage between both the 76ers’ brass and Simmons’ camp — the latter of which is led by agent Rich Paul of Klutch Sports.

In an exclusive with Shams Charania of The Athletic, Paul is throwing down the gauntlet once more. It comes after Philadelphia reinstated the fines Ben Simmons received for missing preseason action. From the 76ers’ perspective, they want him to talk with team doctors about his mental health. In turn, Simmons has given in and doing just that. But for the three-time All-Star and his reps, there’s more to this story.

“I truly believe the fines, the targeting, the negative publicity shined on the issue — that’s very unnecessary and has furthered the mental health issues for Ben,” Paul told Charania. “Either you help Ben, or come out and say he’s lying. Which one is it?”

Charania then paints a picture of a Philadelphia brass that might have some ulterior motives for having Simmons meet with its medical team. This following blurb is absolutely insane.

Related: Find out where Ben Simmons is among Sportsnaut’s top-50 NBA players

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers drama takes another turn

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
February 9, 2021; Sacramento, California, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

“Simmons met with the 76ers’ mental health specialist on Monday for one hour, and team officials say more meetings are scheduled between the two and that Simmons must continue to show documentation of the steps he is taking as part of the process. In a team-issued questionnaire Simmons completed on Wednesday night, several inquiries centered around whether Simmons wants a trade — not his mental health status,” a source told Charania.

What is actually happening here? Is 76ers front office head Daryl Morey using Simmons’ mental health issues as a way to get inside his head about whether the former No. 1 pick is still looking to be traded? That’s all sorts of crazy.

Things worsened between Simmons and the organization immediately ahead of the start of the regular season last month when he was thrown out of practice by head coach Doc Rivers. Simmons was then suspended for the season opener and has not been on the court since. He’s also received hefty fines for holding out of training camp in an attempt to be moved.

The interesting dynamic here is that Ben Simmons’ camp is no longer pushing the trade narrative. It’s all about geetting his mental health in order. At least, that’s what Mr. Paul told Charania.

“This is no longer about a trade. This is about finding a place where we can help Ben get back to his mental strength and get back on the floor,” Paul said. “I want him on the floor playing the game that he loves. I want Ben on the floor whether that’s in a 76ers uniform or any other uniform, that’s not up to me, but I want him in a state where he can resume play. We want to cooperate and want to work him back on the floor.”

Without Simmons in the mix, Philadelphia sits at a surprising 8-4 on the season. The likes of Seth Curry and Tyrese Maxey have stepped up in his stead.

Even then, it’s hard to envision the Sixers coming out on top in the Eastern Conference without some sort of resolution to this situation. Whether that means Simmons is dealt ahead of the February NBA trade deadline or is able to return with his mental health in order remains to be seen.

Right now, things are not looking great on either front.