Doc Rivers: “We Would Love to Get Ben (Simmons) Back”
It's been well documented over the past month or so that Ben Simmons doesn't plan on attending Sixers training camp when it opens on Tuesday.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Tuesday that Simmons will not report for the opening of training camp next week and "intends to never play another game for the franchise."
Today Sixers head coach Doc Rivers stated that the team is still holding out hope that Simmons would be back with the team this season.
"I hope we can change that," Rivers said on the Keyshawn, JWill, and Max show on 97.3 ESPN on Tuesday morning. "I can tell you upfront, we would love to get Ben back," "And if we can, we're going to try to do that."
Woj reports that Simmons hasn’t spoken to the team since a late August meeting when he communicated his desire to be traded to Sixers officials, something Rivers confirmed on Wednesday.
"Not much, but we have had some," Rivers said when asked how much conversation the team has had with Simmons and his agent. "I get his feelings, I understand where he's at right now. But we have some time and we're going to keep trying to work on it to get him in the right place."
Much has been made about the comments the Rivers made at the end of the playoffs when he was asked by a reporter if the team could win a title with Simmons as their point guard.
"That's not what I said," Rivers contested.
Rivers contends that his answer was meant in a way to suggest he was not ready to answer the question after the loss, not to suggest that Simmons wasn't able to play point guard on a championship-level team.
When asked today if Simmons' could play for his team and help them win a championship in Philadelphia, Rivers stated: "all day."
"He just does so many things man," I fought all year for the kid. The Ben Wallace's and Dennis Rodman's help teams win titles."
Rivers acknowledged that he thinks Simmons could score way more but also brought up the fact that Simmons helped hold Hawks star Trae Young to a 5-24 shooting day in Game 7.
"We can absolutely win with him."
Rivers said the team has hired a free throw shooting coach and says he think that is the one thing that Simmons needs to focus on and if he can fix that part of his game, that the other things will come.
At this stage, both parties sound like they are unwilling to bend, the Sixers feel like they don't need to move Simmons, and Simmons doesn't want to play the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall anymore.
Simmons has four years and nearly $147 million left on his deal.
"He's got four years left on his contract. It's in our hands," Rivers stated.
With or without Simmons, Sixers training camp opens on Tuesday -- stay tuned.