Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons has missed the first seven games of the 2021-22 NBA season as he continues to deal with personal mental health issues following an off-season of drama between the guard and his organization.
Simmons, 25, racked up over $1 million in fines for failing to report to training camp in time and missing Philadelphia’s preseason slate. Once he did return, the three-time All-Star found himself at odds with Philadelphia’s brass and was suspended for the season opener by head coach Doc Rivers.
Now with the season fully in motion, we’re hearing more about this situation. To say it’s not good between Ben Simmons and his organization would be an understatement.
“There has been frustration mounting, according to people close to the situation, that Ben has not been accepting any of the help the team has offered him, in terms of helping him with his mental readiness,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne reported on Tuesday. “He has been working with mental health professionals through the Players’ Association, but thus far I’m told he hasn’t really kept the team in the loop on that.”
Given what’s happening behind the scenes, it is surprising that Simmons is not accepting the help Philadelphia is offering. It speaks to a larger rift between the former No. 1 pick and the team after he requested a trade during the summer.
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We have no idea what the Ben Simmons end game is right now
In the aforementioned report, Shelburne noted that there’s no timetable for Simmons’ return to the court. The NBA insider also indicated that he’s not giving Philadelphia’s brass any word as it relates to how he’s preparing to return mentally.
All of this comes with the 76ers having won five of their first seven games of the season. It also comes one day after reports surfaced star forward Tobias Harris would miss extensive time due to the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols.
With Simmons out of action, others have stepped up. Seth Curry is averaging 16.4 points on 54% shooting from three-point range. Sophomore guard Tyrese Maxey continues to play stellar all-around basketball. Prior to being sidelined himself, Harris was averaging nearly 20 points per game. That doesn’t even take into account reigning NBA MVP finalist and leading scorer Joel Embiid.
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Even then, it’s hard to fathom Philadelphia being able to contend with the big boys back east short of the Ben Simmons situation resolving itself or front office head Daryl Morey biting the bullet and pulling off a trade at some point this season.
The question now becomes what trade value Simmons might have left and whether the Sixers are willing to lower their previous asking price for the star guard.
Remember, all of this started after Philadelphia’s premature exit in the 2021 NBA Playoffs at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. It’s a series that saw Simmons average just 9.9 points while shooting a disastrous 33% from three-point range — drawing the ire of fans in the City of Brotherly Love in the process.