AP Photo/Nick Wass
Following his return to the Philadelphia 76ers, guard Ben Simmons reportedly passed his physical and met with team officials Tuesday.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, Simmons had a meeting with Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey and general manager Elton Brand, which sources called “brief.”
Simmons cannot take part in team-related activities until Friday due to NBA health and safety protocols. The 76ers face the Detroit Pistons in preseason action Friday, but sources told Shelburne it is “too early to tell” if Simmons will be cleared to play in that contest.
Initially, Simmons didn’t report to the team in an apparent effort to force a trade. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported last month that Simmons would not report to training camp and intended to never play for the Sixers again.
Sixers head coach Doc Rivers later confirmed during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take that Simmons had asked for a trade, although he expressed hope that the two sides could reconcile.
With the 76ers unable to find a trade offer to their liking and Simmons forfeiting salary by being away from the team, he surprisingly decided to report this week.
During an appearance SportsCenter on Monday night, Wojnarowski described the circumstances surrounding Simmons’ return to the team:
Wojnarowski said while Sixers management was speaking with Simmons’ agent, Rich Paul, about the guard reporting to the team, he wasn’t expected to show up until later in the week.
Instead, Brand reportedly received a text message at the start of Philly’s preseason game against the Nets saying that Simmons was outside the building and needed to enter in order to take his COVID-19 test.
Simmons is under contract through the 2024-25 season and reportedly stood to lose $227,613 for every game he missed.
It can be argued that the 25-year-old Simmons isn’t a great fit on the 76ers’ roster, but there is no question he still has plenty of value as a player.
In four NBA seasons, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft is a three-time All-Star and two-time NBA All-Defensive selection. He also finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting this past season.
Simmons also boasts solid career averages of 15.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game, although those numbers were down to 14.3 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per contest last season, all of which were career lows.
The Aussie also struggled in the playoffs and became a scapegoat for the top-seeded Sixers getting ousted by the Atlanta Hawks in the second round.
Simmons averaged 11.9 points in 12 playoff games and shot 34.2 percent from the free-throw line.
While he is a great defender and playmaker, Simmons can’t shoot from three-point range and hasn’t shown much improvement as a free-throw shooter either.
The Sixers may still decide to trade him some time in the near future, but for now Simmons is back with the team and could be poised to play when the regular season commences next week.