After an offseason full of rumors and speculation, Ben Simmons is still a member of the 76ers, but it is unclear when he will suit up again.
The three-time All-Star surprised the Sixers earlier this month when he unexpectedly showed up at the Wells Fargo Center, ending a holdout that had cost him more than $1 million. Soon after he returned, though, Simmons earned a suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers reportedly tossed Simmons out of a practice after he refused to participate in a defensive drill.
Now dealing with both mental and physical issues, Simmons has not yet appeared in a regular-season game. When could he take the floor this season? And how are the 76ers handling all of the questions surrounding one of their most important players?
MORE: Why 76ers could wait until Dec. 15 to trade Simmons
Is Ben Simmons playing tonight?
Simmons has been listed as out because of “personal reasons” on recent injury reports, and he will likely receive that designation for the foreseeable future.
He reportedly arrived at and then left the Sixers’ practice facility on Oct. 21 without going through a planned workout. He told members of the team’s staff that he was feeling tightness in his back, and after he was treated, he was cleared to participate in the workout.
At the team’s next shootaround on Oct. 22, Simmons told the team that he wasn’t mentally ready to play, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Philadelphia offered “whatever resources are necessary” to help Simmons, per Wojnarowski.
How will the 76ers handle Ben Simmons’ absence?
On the Oct. 25 edition of “NBA Today,” ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne told Malika Andrews that the 76ers have stopped fining Simmons after initially hitting him with heavy financial penalties.
“Some of this, Malika, is because there’s a standard provision in player contracts that says, if you’re dealing with a mental health issue — which Ben Simmons has reported to the team that he is, and he wants to work on himself mentally and physically this week,” Shelburne said. “They’ve taken that in good faith and said, ‘OK, we’re taking that. You are working on yourself, mentally and physically. We’ve offered to make these resources available to you.’
“So, right now, everybody’s in a good place, and the fines are not accumulating. And that was an issue for Ben Simmons, as you know, in the first couple weeks of this standoff.”
MORE: Best potential destinations, trade offers for Simmons
During an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Amy Fadool, Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made it clear that the team is taking Simmons’ mental and physical health “very seriously” and will assist him as much as possible.
“We’re working with Ben to provide every resource to help him with what is needed,” Morey said. “He spoke to his teammates. Things seem to be moving very much in a positive direction. We’re gonna provide all the resources and get Ben what he needs and get him out there as soon as we can.”
What have Ben Simmons’ teammates said about his status?
Joel Embiid to 76ers fans before home opener
“On behalf of my teammates, the organization and myself, I just want to say thank you for your support all these years. A lot has happened the last few months, and I urge you guys continue to support us and our teammate Ben because he’s still our brother. Let’s go!”
And we’ll respect his privacy and space during this time. When he’s ready, we will embrace our brother with love and handle our business on the court. That’s it, that’s all. https://t.co/eardjmQbz8
— Tobias Harris (@tobias31) October 22, 2021
Who will replace Ben Simmons in the 76ers’ rotation?
With Simmons out, the Sixers have been rolling with a starting lineup of Tyrese Maxey, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid. Maxey has stepped up as one of the starting guards, averaging 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists through three games.
Philadelphia has also received a boost off the bench from Furkan Korkmaz, who has gotten off to a hot start this season. The 24-year-old is averaging a career-high 13.7 points and 3.3 assists per game and shooting a blazing 46.2 percent from 3-point range.
“Right now, Doc is trusting me. He is giving me a lot of confidence, too,” Korkmaz said of his expanding role. “He wants me to make a play. He doesn’t want me to just score. He wants me to make plays for others. I think, this year especially, I understand that much better than last year.”