Report: Simmons plans to never play for 76ers again
The NBA's high-profile game of chicken could go right down to the buzzer, as the Philadelphia 76ers still hope to convince Ben Simmons to report to training camp next week, sources told basketball insider Marc Stein on Monday.
However, the point forward hasn't spoken to the team since meeting with 76ers brass late last month and doesn't intend to play for the franchise ever again, EPSN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports.
The 76ers are set to hold their media day on Sept. 27, with the team's training camp running from Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. Philadelphia's first preseason game is in Toronto on Oct. 4, and the club's regular season opens in New Orleans on Oct. 20.
Last month, the 25-year-old reportedly met with Philadelphia's co-managing partner Josh Harris, team president Daryl Morey, general manager Elton Brand, and head coach Doc Rivers to inform them of his intention to hold out and desire for a fresh start, even if it results in being fined.
Simmons is entering the second season of a five-year, $177.2-million contract.
Despite a growing collection of accolades through his first four seasons - including a runner-up finish in Defensive Player of the Year voting in 2020-21 - the 2016 No. 1 pick struggled late last campaign.
In addition to shooting a disastrous 34.2% from the free-throw line this past postseason, Simmons raised eyebrows after passing up a seemingly wide-open dunk late in Game 7 of the conference semifinals versus the Atlanta Hawks. Following the loss, franchise center Joel Embiid called Simmons' misstep the "turning point" in the defeat, while Rivers cast doubt on the Australian's ability to operate as the team's lead ball-handler moving forward.
Embiid denied reports of a growing rift between him and his fellow All-Star teammate later in the summer, tweeting, "I love playing with Ben."
"I hope everyone is back (because) we know we're good enough to win," he added.
A blockbuster deal centered around Simmons hasn't come to fruition, likely due to the 76ers' steep asking price. The team is widely thought to be seeking several high-end veteran players and draft assets, all pieces that would allow Philadelphia to remain one of the Eastern Conference's top title contenders.
Damian Lillard has reportedly been the 76ers' top target in a Simmons trade. However, the Portland Trail Blazers are focused on building around the star point guard, sources told The Athletic's Shams Charania last month.