Ben Simmons’ return to Philadelphia was a victory for the Sixers, but the work is not over. There is still a short distance between № 25 and the team thanks to the protocols related to COVID – so far Simmons can only go through individual training while checking the prerequisites to rejoin his teammates.
After his surprise appearance and test for COVID on Monday night, Simmons went through a series of important steps on Tuesday, met with team members and underwent physical examinations on a weekend for the team. Dr Rivers, whose relationship with Simmons was distant during the off-season, said on Wednesday that he was encouraged by what had happened so far this week.
“We met several times yesterday,” Rivers said. “He did all the things, the physicals and the tests and everything else he had to do. He will come back tonight and work with the boys, individual training until he clears the protocol and we’ll move on.”
The question in everyone’s mind, of course, is whether all this means returning to the floor for Simmons. At several points during the off-season, reports suggest that Simmons will never play another game for the franchise, although claims outside his camp have seemed more toothless over time as financial sanctions have entered and the reality of detention has occurred. in any case, being here does not necessarily mean playing here.
Rivers has said several times that he will not pretend to be a mind reader and that he will not share details of personal meetings between Simmons and the team. What he’s starting from is Simmons’ choice to be here at all, which Rivers says is the biggest indicator they can get.
“I guess he’ll play, but who knows, right? I can’t get into anyone’s head,” Rivers said. “[Our conversation] it was great, it was good, but we’ll see. I will not go into “he said” or anything, we will all understand that. Just like when you ask me about the lineups. You will understand, you really will. “
“You only know what he did. So, the fact that he was here, he showed up and he talked, I only know that his actions were that he showed up and he was here. I’ll let you get into what you are. he also thought about what he was doing. I don’t do it. “
The “just wait and see” approach is understandable for an organization that is trying to mend that connection and push this circus into the background before the season begins on October 20th. It may be naive to think that they can do this non-history, given the noise created between late June and now, but it is not helpful for Rivers or other members of the organization to place flags or engage publicly with so much uncertainty in this situation.
However, it is fair to question how all of this affects Philadelphia’s ability to prepare as a basketball team. Pre-season or not, the Sixers have managed to engage with a clear approach from Embiid and the archers without Simmons in the squad, spreading it around the big man and bombing if doubled. There is a stylistic rope that balances the strengths of Embide and Simmons in insult when they share the word together, something they haven’t had to think about in the last few weeks. And with so much unknown one week from the start of the season, you can imagine that there is little pressure on the players and coaches.
But they don’t seem to see it that way. The message is consistent from all players and employees – the system remains the same regardless of who is or is not available, and their focus is on the boys who are here, no more, no less. As Embiid noted after Monday’s win over Brooklyn, the only requirement for every player, including Simmons, is a buy-in. And they don’t expect Simmons to come back and crawl.
“We just want everyone to come here, show up and do their job, do their job,” Danny Green said Wednesday. “I don’t want him to do anything other than what he usually does, just go to work and do what you usually do. Because [when he does] what he usually does, we are very effective, we are very good at what we are [the] Team number 1 in the East. “
“We don’t ask him to shoot jumps. Just go in, become a professional and do your job and that’s what we expect from him. If he apologizes, cool, but you work with people every day, don’t do it” don’t expect an apology from people who do not appear due to family problems or illness or whatever. Go in and do your job. “
Simmons’ earliest opportunity to do his job will come on Friday, when (assuming all tests are clean) he will be able to join his teammates seriously instead of working in semi-isolation. Philadelphia has its pre-season final in Detroit that night, so in theory Simmons could return almost directly from the exit back to the squad, depending on what they see this week.
Rivers could not confirm whether Simmons would even make his trip to Detroit, much less play in the game, after appearing so late in the preseason. But despite all the speculation about his motives, his well-being and his interest in being here at all, his teammates look at most of them. According to them, the game will talk to them.
“I know his reasoning and what he wants to happen and I will be able to see when he steps on the floor where his head is,” Seth Curry said on Wednesday. “I don’t feel the need to explain anything to me. He’s a grown man and he can do whatever he wants. Just when you step on that floor, the goal must be victory. So we’ll see what happens.”
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