‘Don’t know why we’re playing chicken’: 76ers blamed in Simmons impasse
Asked about Ben Simmons’ situation, Michele Roberts didn’t hold back in voicing her displeasure with the 76ers’ front office.
Speaking on SiriusXM NBA Radio in the US on Wednesday, the soon-to-retire National Basketball Players Association executive director took the Sixers to task.
Ben Simmons has not played at all for the 76ers in the NBA this season.Credit:Getty Images
“Candidly, I think a lot of this stuff could be resolved if everyone behaved like a grown-up,” she said. “I think what’s happening in Philadelphia frankly is ridiculous and I don’t know why we’re playing chicken with each other.
“It just strikes that this is something that could be worked out. It’s difficult.”
The Sixers declined comment when asked about Roberts’ stance.
Simmons has not played with the Sixers this season. He told the team in August he wanted to be traded and wouldn’t report to training camp. The team countered by fining him for missing pre-season games, meetings, and practices.
Upon his return, he was kicked out of practice on October 19 because he was not engaging. He was then suspended for the next day’s season opener in New Orleans. On October 21, Simmons complained of back tightness ahead of a scheduled individual workout at the team’s practice facility in Camden.
From that point on, there’s been a big back-and-forth between Simmons and the organisation to determine his obligations to the team. Four months into the season, he appears no closer to being traded or donning a Sixers uniform again with the February 10 trade deadline looming.
The Sixers still have lofty trade demands that potential partners appear unwilling to meet. But the team hasn’t ruled out keeping Simmons past this season if it doesn’t get the A-list talent in return. All this is happening while Simmons is in the second year of his five-year, $US177 million contract extension.
“With Ben, he wants to leave,” Roberts said. “Now, I understand that teams don’t want players to announce that they are leaving because they have contractual obligations. But let’s also be real here. There’s something amiss that has to be resolved and it can’t be resolved by everybody just playing chicken.”
In October, Simmons informed the Sixers he was not mentally ready to play. As a result, the team was forced to stop fining him because of a provision in the NBA collective bargaining agreement that protects players’ salaries for not rendering services if it is because of a mental-health reason.
But the Sixers fined Simmons a game cheque of $US360,000 for failure to play in their November 4 game against the Detroit Pistons and refusal to accept the team’s assistance to address his mental readiness to play. The next day, he met with the Sixers’ recommended specialist to discuss his mental state.
That led to his agent, Rich Paul of Klutch Sports, telling The Athletic that the team’s recent actions have worsened Simmons’ mental illness. Paul said the team wants to consider Simmons mentally ready to play regardless of what he tells the team’s therapist.
“Look, none of us is privy to every detail.” Roberts said.
“… This is not an issue that emerged at the start of the season. There has been an issue with this player and that team for a while. Rumour has it promises were made about being able to move the player and obviously those promises either weren’t kept or couldn’t be kept. Who knows?
“But at some point there’s got to be, as best as I can tell, they have been at loggerheads since the beginning of the season with very little communication between the player and the team. I just don’t roll like that.”
Roberts said if she has a problem with someone, they’re going to sit down and figure it out. She said she’s not going to partake in a “You call me, no you call me” back-and-forth.
“That’s not the way grown-ups should behave,” she said. “That’s the way grown-ups are behaving.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article